Outgoing Health Minister Jens Spahn warned on Monday that Germans who were not vaccinated or survived a COVID-19 infection would likely die by the end of winter.
Spahn said not enough Germans had been vaccinated against the virus that has infected record numbers in the past two weeks, and urged millions who have so far rejected the government’s offer to reconsider their concerns about vaccines.
“It is very likely by the end of winter that almost everyone in Germany will have been vaccinated, recovered or died,” Spahn said, adding that the more contagious delta variant has made the situation more dire than it was earlier this year.
Spahn, 41, added: “It is very likely that someone who has not been vaccinated will become infected within the coming months. Immunity will be achieved (by everyone). The question: is it achieved by vaccination or infection? That is why we urgently advise everyone to follow the path of Vaccination “.
Only about two-thirds of Germans over the age of 12 are vaccinated against Covid-19.
Although Germany was once viewed as a role model in its science-based measures to contain the epidemic, lower vaccination rates compared to other countries in Europe such as Spain, Portugal and France have been blamed for the surge in infected numbers this month. And stay in hospital.
More than 30,000 new infections were reported in the past 24 hours, after more than 50,000 infections were counted per day in recent days. Hospitals in some regions, such as Saxony in the east and Bavaria in the south, have warned that their intensive care units are overcrowded and have had to turn some patients away and transfer them to other hospitals.
Spahn, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats who was defeated in September’s election, is likely to leave office within the next few weeks once a new center-left government takes office.
A controversial figure for his tortuous path during the pandemic, Spahn faced criticism on Monday for failing to order enough vaccines from Biontech-Pfizer to meet the recent surge in demand mainly related to getting Germans, or the third shot, in the past few weeks.
Spahn was urging doctors late last week to use more of a rival vaccine Moderna that was not as coveted in Germany as Biontech-Pfizer.
“Obviously we are doing everything we can to increase the amounts available,” Spahn said. We will not back down from anything. We will release all the vaccinations we have for use.”
The German government has promised not to introduce a vaccination mandate, although neighboring Austria recently made such a move to combat low vaccination rates there. However, this promise has been described by many political leaders as a mistake that must be rescinded due to the state of emergency.