Keep calm: Germany prepares vaccine drive when COVID cases reach 1M

Tuttlingen, Germany (AP)-A huge gray box is ready to be shipped to the forefront in the next phase of the fight against the German coronavirus, a factory production line in the southern town of Tuttlingen. Rolling from We have reached the milestone of 1 million cases confirmed on Friday.

Human-sized freezers, such as those manufactured by the family-owned company Binder GmbH, are an important part of the vast immunization program that the German government is preparing to deploy when the first vaccine becomes available next month. There is a possibility of becoming.

This is because BioNTech is one of the leading candidates for vaccine competition. It’s a German company that says it’s up to 96% effective in trials in collaboration with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, but it has a minor problem. It is cooled to minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit) for transportation and storage.

Ensuring such temperatures, which are colder than winter in Antarctica, is just one of the many challenges countries face when seeking vaccination.

That effort has been compared to military operations. In fact, some countries, including Germany, rely on military and private expertise to ensure that valuable doses are safely transported from manufacturing plants to secret storage facilities before they are distributed. I will.

Germany benefits from the market power that comes with being a member of the European Union. The administrative committees of 27 countries, led by former German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, have ordered more than a billion doses and have led negotiations with vaccine makers.

German authorities have secured up to 300 million doses from EU orders and have bilaterally traded vaccines at normal refrigerator temperatures with three German manufacturers, including BioNTech and Tubingen-based CureVac. It states that it can be stored. Up to 3 months. However, the test is not as advanced as Pfizer / BioNTech.

The 300 million figure is conditional on all vaccines under development being on the market. Perhaps two bullets are needed, which is more than enough to vaccinate Germany’s population of 83 million.

How accurately the vaccine is given to patients varies from country to country. In Germany, the federal government has delegated its duties to 16 states and is currently working on the construction of a large immunization center.

The city-state of Berlin was drafted by Albrecht Broemme, a veteran of disaster management. The former Berlin Fire Chief later led the German federal civil protection organization THW, helping to organize disaster relief efforts against floods, storms and earthquakes around the world.

The 67-year-old woman is currently coordinating the installation of six vaccine hubs at the Berlin Convention Center, two old airports, an ice skating rink, a concert hall and an indoor bicycle race track.

Authorities hope to be ready to start vaccination of more than 3,000 people per day at each location by mid-December. Broemme and his colleagues take only a few minutes to deliver each shot, similar to what you see in large stores such as furniture company Ikea, keeping in mind to minimize the number of people at each center. We are devising a one-way flow system.

Each site is run by a medical assistance group such as the Red Cross, and volunteers assist in registering and guiding the venue.

As in other places, the first stage of vaccination in Berlin may focus on vaccination of health care workers and vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with chronic illnesses. Approximately 20,000 people are vaccinated daily and will return for booster shots three weeks later.

Demand can initially outpace supply, but it changes as more vaccines hit the market.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament Thursday, “I hope that approval in the field of vaccination will be issued very quickly.” “That doesn’t solve the problem right away, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Broemme says he expects four-fifths of the initially available vaccines to require ultra-low cooling. This means that every center will need a pharmacy to handle both vaccine storage and thawing.

Located in Tuttlingen on the other side of the country, Binder GmbH is one of the hundreds of medical device manufacturers in the town, some dating back to the 19th century, and the demand for freezers is skyrocketing.

Prices range from € 13,000 to € 15,000 ($ 15,500 to $ 17,900), and each device can keep tens of thousands of vials of vaccine at optimum temperature, says Peter Wimer, head of innovation at the company.

“It’s plug and play,” he told AP. “All you need is an electrical socket. Switch it on and you’re ready to go.”

However, being able to prepare the entire vaccination system at the push of a button is another matter.

It is still unclear who will actually be vaccinated in Berlin. Unlike the United Kingdom, which has a centralized national health service that organizes vaccination drives, Germany relies on medical associations to provide the medical staff it needs.

Doorthe Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Berlin branch of the German Association of Legal Health Insurance Doctors, said he was still waiting to provide details on what the state government would require from doctors.

“Despite the positive feedback from doctors’ practice, they think they can help further, but it’s difficult to reach medical personnel to six vaccination centers,” she said. ..

The limits of medical logistics were tested in the spring when global demand for ventilators, remedies, face masks and other protective equipment caused bid wars, bottlenecks and reports of defective products.

Global logistics company DHL estimates that 15,000 flights may be required to deliver the vaccine worldwide over the next two years.

“The challenge is the fact that the doses are very high and it’s not clear which vaccine needs to be given where,” DHL spokeswoman Sabine Hartmann told AP. “This is not something that a single company can do alone. All logistics companies need to work together to tackle this.”


Jordan reported from Berlin.


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Keep calm: Germany prepares vaccine drive when COVID cases reach 1M

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