Protection against Covid-19 – “We don’t know everything about these vaccines yet”


Martin Terhardt in conversation with Nicole Dittmer

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Rapid test run: As here in Husum in North Frisia, vaccination centers are being set up all over Germany. (Imago / Willi Schewski)

The development went quickly: Within months, several vaccines against the novel coronavirus were created. Doctor Martin Terhardt is convinced that these could help contain the disease more quickly.

The first vaccination centers are set up in Germany. There, the risk groups should first be vaccinated against Covid-19. But the upcoming vaccinations are also criticized. The doctor Steffen Rabe warned that too little is known about the corona vaccines, which are now about to be approved in this country.

Advantage outweighs

“We don’t yet know everything about these vaccines,” admits the doctor Martin Terhardt. But this is in the nature of things because the vaccines were developed so quickly, according to the Berlin pediatrician, who is also a member of the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) coordinated by the Robert Koch Institute, who developed the vaccination recommendations. For Terhardt, however, the advantage predominated: “possibly containing this disease faster”.

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The doctor rejects the accusation that no risk groups have been tested. Chronically ill people were included in the third phase of the Biontech vaccine study. This should also be vaccinated in Germany.

The members of the Standing Vaccination Commission also comment on another point of criticism. Because of the short development time, not all side effects are known. But in the next few months, when the first people are vaccinated, “additional knowledge will arise, including about possible additional side effects that have not yet been noticed in the studies”. According to the doctor, all the side effects that have already been noticed are those that are already known from other vaccinations: “Headache, tiredness, a little increase in temperature, pain at the vaccination site”.

Community protection through vaccination

It is still unclear whether people who have been vaccinated can pass on the novel corona virus. Terhardt assures us that this is still being checked for the new rMNA vaccine. This has already been tested with a vector vaccine, but the data are not yet available. “But we have to find out. It’s very important.” But he assumes, the STIKO member emphasizes, that the vaccine “also achieves a certain community protection. But not as perfect as when it protects against infections.”

The doctor assumes that after the risk groups, large parts of the population can also be vaccinated from summer. He would then advise everyone to get vaccinated. “Otherwise we may not get rid of the problem that annoys us so much.”


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