"This week we have only vaccinated about a dozen people against the corona virus every day," says Saqib Cheema, who heads the vaccination practice in Frankfurt. Last winter, when the vaccination campaign had reached its peak, he and his then 60-strong team administered up to 2,000 injections a day. He does receive inquiries by email, but according to him, the interested parties still want the completely new one vaccine wait, which should be adapted to the omicron variant BA.5, says the doctor. "I expect that by the end of the month."
The Frankfurt Health Department also confirms that the new vaccine is almost within reach: That Federal Ministry of Health have announced that the vaccine adapted to the current Omicron variant BA.5 can be ordered as early as September 20th. As soon as there is a STIKO recommendation for this, it will be offered to interested parties.
Subvariants dominate infection processes
A few days ago, the EU Commission approved Biontech's new Covid-19 booster. The so-called bivalent vaccine targets both the subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 and the original strain of the Coronavirus away. The two sub-variants currently dominate the infection process in Germany; according to the latest weekly report from the Robert Koch Institute on Thursday, they can be detected in 98 percent of all corona infections.
It would be the first time that the constantly evolving vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer is now aligned with the actual circulating variants. On the other hand, the active substance, which has recently been vaccinated in the first medical practices in Hesse, is primarily aimed at the earlier omicron variant BA.1, which has meanwhile been almost completely supplanted. However, both active ingredients also fight the original strain of the corona virus.
For both Omikron vaccines, however, there is still no recommendation from the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO). The experts are currently examining the available data. The deputy STIKO chair Sabine Wicker, who works at the Frankfurt University Hospital, promises a “very timely” recommendation.
The STIKO in view
As soon as the Standing Vaccination Commission has given its vote, the demand for the booster increase, vaccinator Cheema is convinced. "It was the same last year." If the infections become more numerous and require restrictions such as a mask requirement, preventive health care will also come into focus again.
Many practices and vaccination centers in Hesse have taken advantage of the offer to order the current vaccine adapted to the corona omicron variant BA.1. It did not arrive everywhere in the required quantity. There is dissatisfaction in the Main-Kinzig district, for example. Only a fraction of what the district had ordered from the vaccine had arrived. "It's a real nuisance. We advertised the vaccination on a variety of channels, and then only a small proportion of what we ordered reached us," says First District Councilor Susanne Simmler (SPD). The surprisingly severely limited contingents at the vaccination points are also particularly unfortunate because a large number of citizens followed the calls.