A 101-year-old woman became the first German to receive a vaccine against the coronavirus on Saturday, a day ahead of the official start of the country's vaccination campaign, local broadcaster MDR reported.
The woman, from Halberstadt in the Harz hill range, lives in a care home for elderly people, where 40 residents as well as 11 staff were vaccinated, MDR reported.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said earlier on Saturday that trucks were on their way to deliver the vaccine to nursing homes, which are first in line to receive the vaccine.
The federal government is planning to distribute more than 1.3 million vaccine doses to local health authorities by the end of this year and about 700,000 per week from January.
"There may be a few hiccups at one point or another in the beginning, but that is quite normal when such a logistically complex process begins," Spahn said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Germany, with a population of 83 million, has built up more than 400 vaccination centres, including in venues like Berlin's former Tegel and Tempelhof airports and Hamburg's trade fair hall.
Vaccinations will be free and available to everyone from mid-2021, when the priority groups are expected to have finished vaccination campaigns. There is no obligation to be inoculated.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany rose by 14,455 to 1,627,103, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. More than 29,000 people in total have died.
Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.