Vaccine commissioner: this is how he wants to overcome the shortages

His appointment was meant to be a signal: The Federal government wants to get a grip on the bottlenecks in the supply of vaccines. In an interview, the vaccine commissioner Christoph Krupp However, it is clear that he is aiming more for long-term successes.

The federal government has appointed you – a climate scientist with a doctorate – as vaccine commissioner. How did it come to this?

Christoph Krupp I spent seven years in Hamburg running the Senate Chancellery for First Mayor Olaf Scholz. In this position, I have dealt with everything that is at hand. I guess that's why they came up with the idea for me to do it now.

In Germany, vaccination is proceeding at a snail's pace. Countries like Serbia, Chile or Morocco are faster. What can you do to speed up the process??

I am responsible for vaccine production. We can be glad that two important vaccines have been developed in Germany: by Biontech in Mainz and Curevac in Tubingen. And we have good production structures in Germany to manufacture these vaccines for Germany and the European Union. We are actually quite well positioned. On this basis, we now have to ensure two things: First, that the necessary vaccine doses are produced by the manufacturers this year. And secondly, to ensure a secure supply for Germany from 2022 onwards via its own production capacities.

This does not affect the pace of vaccination now.

But on ensuring that enough vaccine is available. The companies' plans say that things are now looking up and that sufficient vaccine will be available in the second quarter – subject to production running as planned. We want to address this caveat, together with the manufacturers. We will establish a risk management system for this before the end of March. By monitoring production, we want to prevent disruptions or detect them early and eliminate them as far as possible.

Vaccine commissioner: this is how he wants to overcome the shortages

Please be specific.

By monitoring production, we create transparency: what primary products does the industry need, where do they come from?? Where might bottlenecks arise, and which company could strengthen weak points in the supply chain?? But my focus is also on the question of how we can ensure in the long term that there is a production structure in Germany that can quickly manufacture the necessary vaccines if the pandemic lasts longer or a new pandemic occurs. To this end, the task force will draw up a concept for production capacities in Germany from 2022 onwards by May. The goal is to expand the production of vaccines and secure it in the long term. The focus is on novel technologies such as mRNA ..

… as applied, for example, by Biontech. Do you envisage government-led vaccine production?

Not state-controlled, but state-secured. Companies that are currently producing normal medicines will have to create permanent capacity for vaccine production.

In what order of magnitude do you want to hedge the investments?

We cannot say yet. But it will be significantly less money than we are spending on vaccines at the moment. This can be about risk protection for companies, for example. If companies create long-term capacity, but demand is uncertain – since no one knows how the pandemic will develop – then the government could hedge this risk. But it is still too early for concrete figures.

Which companies do you rely on in particular?

Of course on Biontech and Curevac. But also Johnson Johnson and Astrazeneca want to produce in Germany. We need a network of companies that do the various production steps. This involves the entire value chain: from the procurement of raw materials and the filling of vaccines to the supply of by-products and vaccination accessories.

Vaccine commissioner: this is how he wants to overcome the shortages

How many vaccinations per year should be possible from German production??

We think in European dimensions. The production processes are running beyond the limits. In the event of a pandemic, Europeans should be able to produce a new active ingredient for the entire European population in a quarter of a year. That would be 500 million doses of vaccine. Germany should make a powerful contribution to this.

This is all future music. How to overcome acute vaccine shortage? Do we need help from Russia or China for this?

The quantities ordered by the EU are sufficient. For the second quarter, that's more than 60 million vaccine doses for Germany. Now we need to focus on making sure they are delivered.

Another manufacturer – Johnson Johnson – wants to deliver less vaccine than promised. Doesn't that drive you crazy?

There is no malicious intent behind this. Delays can happen. Others have just pledged to deliver more in return. Johnson Johnson's vaccine could also be produced in Germany. This would increase the security of supply.

Vice Chancellor Scholz targets ten million vaccinations per week before summer. How to do that?

I think Mr. Scholz wanted to send the signal: Start dealing with the fact that you can now really vaccinate massively.

So the number was grabbed.

It was right to send this signal.

When will everyone who wants to be vaccinated?

end of summer is realistic. Anyone who ames an earlier date is an optimist.

Germans get bogged down in bureaucracy? Israel even vaccinates in bars – and has success with it.

I know that many people in this country are going to great lengths to organize this well. Germany is a slightly larger country than Israel, with somewhat more complicated structures. Of course, I wish that many vaccinations take place.

Why is vaccination so late in doctors' offices??

The federal and state health ministers have agreed that first the vaccination centers will be properly utilized. Then, as expeditiously as possible, primary care physicians join in. There is also hope for the company doctors. Then it should also be possible in Germany to vaccinate the material very quickly.

Want a digital vaccination passport with which vaccinated people – unlike others – can travel or go to the gym?

I do believe that a digital vaccination record is useful. What you're allowed to do with it is negotiated by the federal and state governments once you have a relevant portion of the population – about 30 or 40 percent – vaccinated. Hopefully, that will be the case in the second quarter.

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