Speaking in the Bundestag on Wednesday, Spahn, of the Christian Democrats (CDU) spoke out over the vaccination strategy in Germany, which has been under fire since it began on December 27th.
“Not every decision in recent months was right,” said Spahn. “We are learning from that.”
However, he said, vaccine production capacity limitations was the problem, not too few contracts. “That’s why we have to prioritise,” Spahn said.
“Some things could have been done faster,” he added. “Of course there are hiccups in the biggest vaccination campaign in history.”
However, Spahn said things will improve.
“We will be rewarded for our patience,” he said. By summer the government believes it will be possible to offer every German resident a vaccination, he added.
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Spahn described the current situation as “one of the most difficult phases of the pandemic”.
Around 750,000 people in Germany have received their first dose since the inoculation campaign began at the end of 2020.
“Vaccination brings light at the end of the tunnel,” Spahn said.
‘It right that we act European’
Spahn defended the decision for the EU to order vaccine together “Yes, it is right that we act European,” he said.
The Health Minister stressed that no country and no government can defeat the virus alone. “It can only be done together,” he said.
Spahn also stressed that to “defeat the virus” the majority of people in the country needed to get the jab.
That’s why confidence in the safety of the vaccine through an approval process is important, he said.
Following Spahn’s speech, the Social Democrats (SPD) criticised the federal government for its vaccination management, saying the question of whether Germany purchased enough vaccine doses needed to be considered.
Measures ‘won’t be relaxed in February’
Earlier in the day Spahn said relaxing all the lockdown measures from February would not be possible. The current restrictions are due to expire at the end of January.
“One thing is already evident: it will not be possible to loosen all restrictions on February 1st,” Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio.
He added that it would take another two or three months for the effects of a vaccination campaign to kick in.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 19,600 new coronavirus infections within 24 hours on Wednesday. The number of deaths increased by 1,060 to 42,637.
Leaders, including Spahn, have raised major concerns over the new Covid-19 variants found in the UK and South Africa.
“That means that we must do everything we can to make sure that this virus is brought into Germany and continental Europe as little as possible,” he said.
The German cabinet has now approved new tighter travel restrictions.
Spahn also ruled out making vaccination mandatory for anyone in Germany, including care staff. This idea had been put forward by Bavarian state premier Markus Söder. He had called for a debate on the issue.
Spahn promised the vaccination would not become compulsory in Germany. Instead he said Germany aimed to use education to show people the positives of the vaccine.