Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has criticized the speed of booster vaccinations in the federal states. Although it was agreed with the federal states three months ago that a booster should first be offered to residents in care facilities and all over 60-year-olds, there have only been two million booster vaccinations since then, the minister said at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday. The federal states should inform those affected how North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin would do so. The federal states have committed to leaving vaccination centers in stand-by mode and should now reactivate them. He will also talk to medical representatives. "Too many people who want to be vaccinated cannot currently find a doctor to vaccinate them," says Spahn.

Vaccine expert Leif Sander believes that around 30 million people in Germany should promptly receive booster vaccinations. The current pace of vaccination is not enough to reach the high-risk group this winter, said the head of the research group for infection immunology and vaccine research at the Charité on Wednesday at the press conference. He reiterated his call for a coordinated booster campaign. The aim was to quickly reach the elderly, people with severe pre-existing illnesses and immunodeficiency, as well as health care personnel. A dampening effect on the infection process can also be expected.

In view of the deteriorating corona situation in Germany, Minister Spahn urges caution and further protective measures.

"The pandemic is anything but over." In some regions, the number of intensive care patients is increasing, and transfers to other hospitals are already planned.

Once again, it is important to prevent the health system from becoming overloaded.

Test concepts are necessary in all nursing homes, and in regions with a large number of infections there are also access rules only for vaccinated and convalescent people (2G).

However, Spahn refused a mandatory vaccination for staff in community facilities such as nursing homes.

In his opinion, there is a “moral obligation” for staff to be vaccinated, but an obligation to vaccinate could divide society.

16 million unvaccinated

The President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler, spoke in Berlin of 16.2 million unvaccinated people over the age of twelve in Germany, of which 3.2 million were over 60 and therefore particularly at risk. Wieler also warned of a further worsening of the corona situation. “If we don't take countermeasures now, this fourth wave will bring a lot of suffering again. Many people will become seriously ill and die, and the health system will be heavily burdened again, ”said Wieler. Unfortunately, the wave is developing exactly as feared, since not enough people have been vaccinated and the behavioral instructions to protect against infection and the 2- and 3-G rules are no longer adequately implemented. "These are terrifying numbers," said Wieler, referring to the deaths recorded in Germany.

The RKI boss called for vaccinations and compliance with the rules on distance, hygiene, masks and ventilation. The vaccination is not a silver bullet, he made it clear: It does not work the same for all vaccinated. "In addition, the vaccination protection can decrease over time - especially with the elderly, who are already very vulnerable." Solidarity remains the order of the day, Wieler emphasized. "We all want this winter to be the last winter of the Covid-19 pandemic." Everyone is responsible for the further development of the fourth wave. Many lives could be saved with vaccinations and compliance with the measures.

Minister Spahn again campaigned for a federal-state top round on the corona procedure. It is important to take the prime ministers on board alongside the health ministers and to base decisions on the broadest possible basis. This now makes sense in the transition phase up to the start of the new federal government in order to achieve uniform communication and thus acceptance.

The Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder meanwhile spoke out in favor of a nationwide third-party vaccination against the corona virus in Germany.

"It makes sense that everyone does an antibody test," said Söder on Wednesday after a meeting of his cabinet in Munich.

"In the end, everyone will have to get a booster vaccination." There is now an urgent need for a vote at the federal level on this and other important questions in the fight against pandemics, Söder said.

"We have to have a common line in the fight against corona."

Mask requirement in Bavarian schools

To curb the rapidly increasing number of corona infections, the Bavarian cabinet has decided to temporarily reintroduce the mask requirement in schools.

After the autumn break, masks must be worn again in the primary schools for one week and in the secondary schools for two weeks, regardless of the minimum distance.

According to the RKI, the nationwide seven-day incidence of new corona infections has decreased for the second day in a row.

The agency reported an incidence of 146.6 new infections per 100,000 residents within seven days on Wednesday morning.

The previous day the incidence was 153.7.

In Thuringia, the incidence is particularly high at around 328 - there are also many new infections in Bavaria and Saxony.

According to the latest information from the RKI, 20,398 new infections with the coronavirus and 194 other deaths related to the virus were recorded within 24 hours.

The total number of registered cases of infection in Germany since the beginning of the pandemic rose to 4,628,419, the total number of deaths to 96,027.