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German foreign minister: "Getting vaccine against Covid-19 is only the first step"

According to the top German diplomat, fair global distribution is critical.

German foreign minister: "Getting vaccine against Covid-19 is only the first step"
Photo: EPA/UPG

The data provided by BioNTech (Germany) and Pfizer (USA) give hope that their coronavirus vaccine may be effective, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said at the Third Paris Peace Forum.

However, he noted that the most important thing now is to create conditions for wide access to the drug.

"Fair global distribution is critical. We must increase support for the WHO's Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. And this is one of the pillars of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX). We are doing all this as part of a joint initiative led by the European Commission," Maas said.

According to him, it is now necessary to create opportunities to strengthen the WHO. Maas also expressed hope that after the presidential election, the United States would join the initiative after all.

"Our allies must make specific proposals on how to strengthen WHO. Its work must be based on three important components: resilience, preparedness for new pandemics and the very ability to act during the global health crisis. And again, after the US presidential election, I hope that this time we will be able to rely on our American friends in this difficult matter," Maas said.

The minister also called for adopting a One Health approach based on the development and implementation of programmes, policies, legislation and research with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognising the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.

"The current pandemic has shown us how closely human health is linked to the state of the animal world and the planet. We can build our work on the principle adopted at last year's conference 'One Planet, One Health, One Future'," Maas said.

WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus supported the initiative. He recalled that in more than 70% of diseases discovered in recent years infections were transmitted from animals to humans. According to him, the main health challenges are microbial resistance, food availability and preparedness for new pandemics.

As reported earlier, BioNTech and Pfizer announced that their coronavirus vaccine is over 90% effective for those who have not been infected with Covid-19 before.

The BNT162b2 candidate vaccine is based on BioNTech's mRNA vaccine technology and is being developed with support from Pfizer's global vaccine development and production capabilities.

The immunisation schedule involves the administration of two doses of the vaccine of 30 mcg each. As of 8 November, 38,955 people have already received the second dose.

Protection against Covid-19 is achieved 28 days after the first injection. The developers have not found any serious problems with the safety of the vaccine.

BioNTech plans to set a differentiated price for the COVID-19 vaccine depending on the region. The company says that the price will be lower than the market one.

About a dozen companies have already moved to the third phase of clinical trials, and some have even planned to deliver the first doses of the vaccine by spring 2021. Vaccines from the Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm, the Russian Gamaleya Centre and another Chinese developer, CanSino Biologics, have already been approved for limited use.

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