Germany – the belated nation
The Israelis vaccinate like the world champions. The vaccination stations are open 24 hours a day – seven days a week. Over half a million people were vaccinated in the first nine days. That was around 5.5 percent of the population. In Germany there were 131,000 by New Year’s Eve. That’s less than one percent.
Why are the Germans so slow and the Israelis so fast? And not just the Israelis. Great Britain received four million vaccine doses by New Year’s Eve alone and has received approval for around 40 million more for 2021. There are more than a hundred vaccination stations operating across the kingdom for over a week. 94-year-old Queen Elizabeth II and her 99-year-old husband Philip have also been vaccinated.
For Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, vaccination has been a top priority from the start. He had phoned the managing director of the Pfizer manufacturing company, Albert Bourla, in New York twice. The deal that came out was the delivery of eight million cans.
The Israelis pay 30 US dollars per ampoule for this, while the EU only pays 18 dollars. The law of supply and demand also determines prices in corona times. But the additional expenditure has paid off for the State of Israel. He had previously concluded an agreement for the sale of a vaccine with the American pharmaceutical company Moderna. He is already oversupplied with that. At the current rate, around 60 percent of the population will be vaccinated by March. That is enough to achieve what is known as herd immunity.
Start together and together
Great Britain began immunization almost two weeks before the Germans, with the active ingredient that had been developed by Biontech and Pfitzer in Mainz with generous financial support from the federal government, i.e. using tax money. So does the United States. Nobody asked whether and how many people who died of the epidemic in Germany and will die in the coming weeks could have been saved.
The approval of the vaccine was also delayed for political reasons. Health Minister Spahn refused to go it alone. He wanted to wait until the EU would approve the serum. That took significantly longer than the approval in Great Britain and the USA. Because things are not going fast in the EU, and certainly not since Ursula von der Leyen was in charge there. “ Let’s start vaccinating together as soon as possible, together with a start on the same day,” said von der Leyen in the European Parliament.
In the UK, the corona vaccine from Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca can now also be used. The British regulatory authority for medicinal products has approved the product, although it is said to be less effective than the German one.
Germany started not only late, but also with a lack of vaccine. The EU Commission was responsible. The manufacturers BioNTech and Pfizer had offered 500 million cans for sale. The EU only ordered 200 million and increased it to 300 million a few days later. Even more than vaccine, there was a lack of professionalism. According to BioNTech boss Uğur Şahin, she has also relied on vaccines from other manufacturers, which now cannot deliver quickly enough. Sahin on the mood in Brussels: “ Obviously the impression prevailed: it won’t be that bad.”
With a good chance of success, Jens Spahn could have negotiated bilaterally about the delivery of additional contingents. But he said he didn’t want to negotiate “backwards”. Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble jumped at him. After all, one shouldn’t snatch the material away from poorer countries. Spahn and Schäuble obediently follow the Merkel line. Not Germany, but Europe first. The vaccine must become a “global public good” which, according to the Chancellor, is accessible to “all parts of the world”.
Regardless of whether Spahn did not act in good time for ethical reasons or whether he missed his chance – the consequences were delivery bottlenecks in several federal states. The opening of the treatment center at the old Berlin-Tegel airport had to be canceled because not enough vaccine was available.
This is what “vaccination nationalism” looks like
The Bonn virologist Hendrik Streeck has suggested that the second vaccination should be postponed in order to stretch the supplies. Because already after the first vaccination, more than half of those vaccinated are protected.
SPD parliamentary group leader Carsten Schneider issued a cheap rebuke to the CDU health minister. He had to “end the chaos quickly.” Schneider could have said that when purchasing vaccines, German interests should be given priority over international interests. But he didn’t. Because that would have damaged the solidarity doctrine of his party.
For Jakob Augstein’s “Friday”, the verdict is clear despite the adverse facts: “Pure vaccination nationalism”. But the Germans cannot be accused of this. Otherwise they would have had enough of the material.