Germany to make sequencing coronavirus samples compulsory, urges Pfizer to stick to delivery commitments

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The current level of coronavirus sequencing in Germany is not sufficient and laboratories will be obliged to sequence coronavirus samples to monitor virus mutations, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday.

Spahn said labs would be compensated for each genome sequencing they carry out.

Spahn also urged people not to call the new coronavirus mutation that was first detected in the United Kingdom “the English variant”.

“Just as we didn’t talk about the ‘Chinese virus’ last year, now we shouldn’t talk about the ‘English variant,'” Spahn said. 

German Minister of Health Jens Spahn holds a FFP2 protective mask during a press conference at the Federal Health Ministry in Berlin, Germany, 18 January 2021. Minister Spahn informs nationwide genome sequencing of the coronavirus and presents a corresponding regulation. EPA-EFE/HAYOUNG JEON

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 7,141 to 2,040,659, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday. The reported death toll rose by 214 to 46,633, the tally showed. 

Spahn urged COVID-19 vaccine maker Pfizer to stick to its commitments on delivery volumes and dates after the company announced a temporary reduction in deliveries due to construction work at one of its plant.

A vaccine center worker prepares paperwork and a vaccine record booklet for an elderly man who had arrived for inoculation against COVID-19 at the vaccine center at the Messe Berlin trade fair grounds on the center’s opening day during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Berlin, Germany, 18 January 2021. The center is the third to open in Berlin. Three more are to open in coming weeks once shipments of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines pick up pace. EPA-EFE/SEAN GALLUP / POOL

Jens Spahn said that while Pfizer and its German partner Biotech would make vaccine deliveries this week, there would be shortages over the coming two weeks. Using doses originally earmarked for second shots as initial shots would help bridge that period of shortages, he added.

Pfizer informed the European Union that it would temporarily reduce its deliveries of a COVID-19 vaccine to member states due to construction work at its plant in the Belgian town of Puurs, the German health ministry said on Friday.

Main Photo: A mandatory face mask sign at a vaccination center in Duisburg, Germany. EPA-EFE/FRIEDEMANN VOGEL

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