The market approval of the first coronavirus vaccines is getting closer and could be granted this year. Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) presented the vaccination strategy for Austria on Tuesday. The population is to be vaccinated in three phases in 2021. The first vaccinations are to be given as early as January. In any case, the vaccination will be voluntary, was emphasized. The goal is a vaccination rate of at least 50 percent.
“The higher the vaccination rate in Austria becomes, the lower the risk should gradually become,” said Anschober. The vaccination strategy is to be decided on Wednesday at the Council of Ministers. 200 million euros are available for the purchase of 16.5 million doses from five manufacturers. Negotiations are underway at EU level for a further two million doses. Two doses of vaccine per person are required at intervals of three to four weeks. The first vaccines are expected from the manufacturers Pfizer/Biontech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. According to Anschober, safety is the first priority and not the time factor.
The first to be vaccinated in January in old people’s homes and nursing homes will be residents over 65 years of age and employees. In the first phase, the focus will also be on nursing and health care personnel in hospitals, doctors’ offices, rescue organizations and social services, as well as on high-risk groups with defined pre-existing conditions.
“Ideally, one million doses will be available for the Austrian market in January, February,” said Clemens Martin Auer, Covid Special Representative in the Ministry of Health. With two necessary partial vaccinations per person, 500,000 people would have to be immunized. However, he emphasized that “not everything can be changed overnight”, “not everything will be possible in January”.
In the second phase in March and April, two million vaccines will be available for one million people. In principle, this will be used to vaccinate people over 65 years of age and those at systemic risk in the areas of security, justice, schools and educational institutions, critical infrastructure and to maintain public life.
The vaccines are all centrally procured by the EU. Fixed pre-sales contracts at EU level have already been concluded with five of the seven vaccine suppliers. During the negotiations, the EU states were able to jointly develop market power, explained Auer. The more that can be produced in Europe, the better it is for the world, said Auer – 70 percent of all vaccines would come from Europe. In detail, Astra Zeneca will deliver six million doses to Austria, Biontech/Pfizer 3.5 million, Curevac three million, Johnson&Johnson 2.5 million and Sanofi 1.5 million.
— hp, with reports from news agencies. picture: pixabay.com
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