German Health Minister Jens Spahn has sought to downplay fears about mandatory coronavirus vaccinations, saying compulsory jabs are unlikely to be necessary to contain the spread of the virus.
Spahn outlined that German authorities are targeting an overall immunity of 50 to 65 percent of the population, which would be sufficient to effectively contain the virus. The goal will likely be achievable through voluntary vaccinations, he argued.
The lawmaker drew comparisons with measles, which is much more contagious than the coronavirus and requires 95 percent of the population to be vaccinated to stop the spread.
The minister added that there is no reason why people can’t adhere to simple hygiene practices like washing their hands, adding that wearing masks in colder winter months, in which infections are expected to increase, is reasonable.
Spahn said that widespread Covid-19 vaccination is likely to begin in Germany in the first quarter of 2021. He reported that some 1.1 million people were tested every week in Germany, 1.6 percent of whom tested positive.
Some 5,132 coronavirus cases were reported by German health authorities on Tuesday, the highest number since April. However, testing capacity has greatly increased in the interim which might contextualize the figure.
With this in mind, Spahn hinted at the possible introduction of tighter restrictions on parties, celebrations and events, as well as the expansion of mask requirements. German authorities are considering introducing uniform coronavirus guidelines across all German states, which at present have a variety of restrictions, depending on infection rates and population density.
Spahn emphasized the need for public adherence to coronavirus guidelines, which he said have been consistently accepted with minimal resistance. He claimed extreme surveillance was unnecessary and that randomized checks would likely achieve the intended outcome of limiting the spread.
The minister’s comments come amid rising concerns over vaccine safety, after a number of high-profile trials were paused due to participants falling ill or experiencing adverse side effects.
Spahn’s comments will also likely allay fears of mandatory vaccination programs in one of the most powerful nations in the EU.
The possibility of compulsory Covid jabs has inflamed opinions around the world. Some 39 percent of Canadians polled felt the coronavirus vaccine should be mandatory, while in the UK government ministers are divided.
Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething said he “wouldn’t rule out” mandatory vaccinations for Welsh citizens. His comments were attacked by Suzy Davies MS, who said it was an Orewellian statement, while Brexit Party leader Mark Reckless said the mere suggestion was “unacceptable.”
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