mRNA booster vaccinations: Spahn advertises Moderna

Status: 11/22/2021 11:57 a.m.

According to the Minister of Health, up to 50 million vaccine doses from BioNTech and Moderna will be available by the end of the year. Spahn regretted the BioNTech cap and promoted the “Rolls-Royce alternative”.

Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn has rejected possible reservations about the Corona vaccine from Moderna for booster vaccinations. “Moderna is a good, safe and very effective vaccine,” said the CDU politician during a joint press conference with Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, and Leif Erik Sander, head of the research group for infection immunology and vaccine research Berlin Charité. The vaccine from BioNTech is the Mercedes and that from Moderna is the Rolls-Royce, said Spahn.

At the same time, the acting Minister of Health pointed out that many booster vaccinations will continue to be carried out with the BioNTech vaccine, which is preferred by many citizens. BioNTech’s vaccine currently accounts for over 90 percent of orders. Spahn said that on this Monday and Tuesday alone, six million BioNTech cans went from the warehouses to the supply. In the following weeks there are two to three million cans. “That has to be inoculated now,” said Spahn. “The vaccination campaign is going on again and again.”

A total of 24 million BioNTech cans would be available by the end of the year. “So if we assume that we want to have 25 to 30 million booster vaccinations by the end of the year, then a large part of these vaccinations will, if desired, also take place with BioNTech,” said Spahn.

High BioNTech demand and large Moderna reserve

The Federal Ministry of Health had previously announced limits on order quantities for the BioNTech vaccine in a letter to the federal states for the coming weeks. To this end, the preparation from Moderna is to be used more frequently for booster vaccinations. As a justification it was also pointed out that otherwise from the middle of the first quarter of 2022 stored Moderna cans threatened to expire.

Unfortunately, the impression was created that this was the only reason why they were relying on the vaccine from Moderna, said Spahn. This is an important aspect, said the acting health minister. Rather, the decisive factor is that the stocks of BioNTech are currently rapidly emptying and that only a limited number of vaccine doses will be temporarily available in the coming week. “Everything we have and everything we get delivered new will of course be delivered,” said Spahn. “We’re not holding anything back.”

BioNTech and Moderna equivalent vaccines

16 million booster doses of the Moderna vaccine are currently available in the camps. By the end of the year there were up to 26 million cans. “There is enough vaccine for all upcoming vaccinations and both vaccines work,” said Spahn.

Nonetheless, he admitted that the limitation of BioNTech deliveries to German medical practices could cause problems there. “I am very aware that this short-term changeover means a lot of additional effort and stress for many committed helpers on site, in the doctor’s offices and vaccination centers,” said Spahn. “Planned processes and procedures have to be changed and they have to do a lot of persuasion. I know that and I regret that too.”

According to vaccine researcher Sander, the preparations from BioNTech and Moderna are equally suitable for primary vaccination and boosting. Cross-vaccination with both substances is also safe and well tolerated, said the head of the research group for infection immunology and vaccine research at the Charité in Berlin. “We are very fortunate in Germany to have free access to the best, safest and most modern vaccines against Covid-19,” said Sander. “And we absolutely have to accept this gift.”

“We are sitting in the land of milk and honey”

The President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) responsible for vaccines, Klaus Cichutek, said both vaccines are equivalent. Their efficiency is more than 90 percent. Studies have also shown that the vaccine reactions are very low in both. “Both vaccines are equivalent,” said Cichutek. “There are no doubts about the data situation, about the approval and about the studies that examined and produced results after approval.”

The debate about the use of the mRNA vaccines from Moderna and BioNTech is inappropriate, said Cichutek. “We are in the land of milk and honey,” he said, emphasizing that, unlike in many other countries, there was enough very good vaccine available in Germany. Rather, the “message of the season” is that everyone should get vaccinated.

“Disaster in several ways”

Previously, federal states and doctors’ representatives had sharply criticized the announcement of upper order limits. The booster vaccinations are now picking up speed; there are concerns that the BioNTech cap could slow that down.

Berlin’s State Secretary for Health Martin Matz said that rbb, the planned delivery limit for the vaccine from BioNTech is a “catastrophe in several respects”. It shows that there is again not enough vaccine to cover the booster vaccinations, said the SPD politician. The plans also represented a major challenge for the Berlin vaccination centers, said Matz: “We would then not even be able to carry out the full number of second vaccinations after the first vaccination. You cannot change there either. After the first BioNTech vaccination, of course, we also have to offer a second BioNTech vaccination. “

The federal chairman of the General Practitioner Association, Ulrich Weigeldt, also criticized the planned rationing in a letter to the Ministry of Health. “All in all, we fear that the delivery scheme you have planned will hinder rather than promote an acceleration of the vaccination campaign,” quoted the portal “The Pioneer” from a letter from Weigeldt to the ministry. The doctors were “at short notice and very surprisingly” confronted with a letter from the ministry announcing a limit on orders for Biontech vaccine to 30 doses per week from next week, the letter said.

Meanwhile, BioNTech is examining whether it can deliver more vaccine than previously agreed. “We are currently checking whether and, if so, how many doses we could deliver at short notice and in addition to the contractually agreed ones,” said a company spokeswoman for the dpa news agency.

2.4 million doses of vaccine for children

According to Health Minister Spahn, 2.4 million doses of the BioNTech vaccine will be available for children from the age of five in December. Approval from the European Medicines Agency, EMA, is likely to come by the end of this week, he said. The entire European Union will receive the first delivery on December 20th. Germany received 2.4 million cans for five to eleven year olds “in one fell swoop,” said Spahn.

Given that there are 4.5 million children in this age group, a large part of the initial demand can be met. Further deliveries are expected in the first few months of the new year. Since children need a different dosage, a different filling and a different lead time for the children’s vaccine are necessary, according to the managing minister of health.

Spahn on the confusion about BioNTech order quantities: “More is not there”

Markus Sambale, ARD Berlin, November 21, 2021 8:04 am

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