Germans angry as coronavirus vaccine reaches Israel, other countries before Germany

Last month, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, “As the German health minister, I will have a hard time explaining why a vaccine developed in Germany will reach other regions first.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Last week, the United Kingdom became the first Western country to launch a mass coronavirus vaccination campaign, after British regulators granted emergency permission to the COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech on December 2.

The United States rolled out its own vaccination program this Monday, using the same Pfizer – BioNTech produced vaccine. Israel, Canada, and Bahrain have announced that their vaccination programs are slated to begin in the coming days.

But citizens in Germany – the home of BioNTech, and the country in which much of the research and development for the vaccine took place – will have to wait a little longer.

The vaccine has yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), preventing its distribution in Germany and the other 27 European Union nations. The EMA has said it will meet December 29 to discuss approving the vaccine.

Last month, Health Minister Jens Spahn told German newspaper Bild, “As the German health minister, I will have a hard time explaining why a vaccine developed in Germany will reach other regions first.”

Bild pointed out that explaining this is “exactly what Spahn must do now.”

Spahn tweeted Sunday evening that all the necessary data was ready for the EMA to approve the vaccine. He encouraged the regulatory body to meet as soon as possible so that distribution can begin.

“As the EU, we have successfully supported vaccine development and secured vaccine doses together….UK + US have already granted permits. An examination of the data and the approval by the EMA should take place as soon as possible,” he wrote.

“This is also about the confidence of the citizens in the European Union’s ability to act…Every day that we can start vaccinating earlier reduces suffering and protects the particularly vulnerable.”

While German laws would have allowed a German regulatory body to approve use of the vaccine within the country, media reports allege that Germany is concerned about presenting a “united front” with the European Union on the eve of the UK’s withdrawal from the alliance.

Germany has reported some 1.3 million cases of the coronavirus and some 22,000 deaths.