Germany hasn’t ordered enough vaccines nor stocked enough to keep its vaccination campaign going through the first quarter of the year, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Tuesday, amid fears that the country’s fourth wave of the pandemic might continue to spiral out of control.
“I have been working for days to get rid of the vaccine shortage,” Lauterbach told public broadcaster ARD. “But indeed, we do not have enough vaccines.”
The announcement comes as Germany battles a surge in cases that has pushed Europe back to the epicenter of the pandemic, with the newly discovered Omicron variant driving the rise.
Last week, Germany recorded its highest number of daily deaths from Covid-19 since February.
Earlier this month, the country banned unvaccinated people from accessing all but the most essential businesses, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, as part of new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.
Yet the percentage of fully vaccinated residents has remained at just under 70 percent for weeks. Few people are receiving their first vaccination, with the majority of vaccinations now booster shots.
The country’s leaders have previously said they’d contemplate making vaccination mandatory nationwide as early as February 2022 – though continuing vaccine shortages would likely hamstring such an effort.
Meanwhile, the country’s vaccination campaign for children ages five to eleven started on Tuesday.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the name of the German public broadcaster ARD.