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COVID-19 vaccine not widely available before mid-2021: German minister

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:01, September 16, 2020

BERLIN, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- A vaccine against the novel coronavirus would not be widely available before the middle of next year, Germany's Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek said on Tuesday.

"We are still not at the finish line with the vaccine development, a lot can still happen in the next few weeks," said Karliczek during a press conference. She also stressed the importance of confirming the safety of a vaccine.

Safety had "absolute priority," stressed Karliczek. A vaccine could only be used if the proven benefit was significantly higher than the potential risks.

The German government had launched a special funding program to accelerate research and development of a COVID-19 vaccine with up to 750 million euros (892 million U.S. dollars). The details about the funding had already been finalized with two of the German companies, according to Karliczek.

German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, which is working together with U.S. company Pfizer on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, would receive 375 million euros, while the biotech company CureVac would get 230 million euros in funding, according to Karliczek.

IDT Biologika was the third company to be funded by the German government, but talks about the funding were still ongoing, according to Karliczek.

To date, the World Health Organization (WHO) has registered around 180 vaccines that are in development, including 35 in human trials.

At a virtual briefing on Aug. 6, Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said that six COVID-19 vaccine candidates, including three from China, had entered phase-3 trials.

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