The federal government wants to enable all interested citizens to have a fourth corona vaccination by autumn and is buying new vaccines on a large scale for this purpose. She wants to order a newly tailored vaccine from the manufacturer Moderna for 830 million euros, which is said to be effective against both conventional virus variants and the omicron variant. The federal cabinet made a corresponding decision on Wednesday, as announced by Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD).

“We have to be prepared for all eventualities. The pandemic is not over yet,” said the minister: “We would like to be able to offer a fourth vaccination to all those who need or want it.”

Self-government, telematics, Morbi-RSA: The briefing on health

According to Lauterbach, the vaccination strategy decided by the cabinet aims to ensure that three differently tailored vaccines are available in large numbers by autumn: firstly, the vaccines against older variants such as Delta that have already been used; second, a vaccine specially tailored to Omikron, which the company Biontech is currently developing; and third, the “bivalent” vaccine ordered from Moderna, which aims to combine the effects of the other two vaccines.

According to Lauterbach, the cabinet also decided that the vaccination centers should be kept alive; the federal government is providing up to 100 million euros a month for this. There should also be a new vaccination campaign.

Lauterbach admitted that there is currently a “surplus” of vaccine doses in Germany – and that the planned ordering of further vaccines is likely to mean that older vaccines expire. But this was “reasonable in the matter,” he said. “We cannot yet predict which variants we will have to contend with in autumn.” That is why the government must prepare for all eventualities by ordering vaccines.

It is planned that interested citizens can be vaccinated against the corona virus for the fourth time by autumn with a vaccine of their choice. This promise of free choice should also apply if everyone interested wants to be vaccinated with the same vaccine – and other vaccines then expire. “When new variants and new vaccines come, you have to get new vaccines, while some of the old vaccines expire,” said the minister.

Lauterbach said he considered a general recommendation from the Standing Vaccination Commission for a fourth vaccination to be “desirable”. However, there is currently no medical basis for such a recommendation, as it is far from clear which variants the country will have to deal with in autumn.

In addition, the Minister of Health is assuming that the Federal Constitutional Court will confirm the compulsory corona vaccination for nursing and health staff. Before the verdict was announced this Thursday, Lauterbach said on Wednesday in Berlin: “I don’t want to speculate about an expectation.” But he believes “that we can then react accordingly”.

Lauterbach also referred to the arguments put forward in advance and said that he assumed “that the legality of the facility-related compulsory vaccination will actually be confirmed”.

In the summary proceedings, the judges in Karlsruhe did not object to the obligation to vaccinate hospital and nursing staff. In February, however, they critically noted that the law does not contain anything more specific about proof of vaccination and recovery.

According to Lauterbach, fighting the pandemic should also be a central topic at the meeting of the G7 health ministers on Thursday and Friday in Berlin. Ministers should agree on a global “pandemic pact” at their meeting, he said.