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21 May, 2021 12:00

Covid-19 vaccines less effective against Indian variant, German public health agency warns

Covid-19 vaccines less effective against Indian variant, German public health agency warns

Germany’s public health agency has warned that coronavirus vaccines could be less effective against the Indian variant, and its health minister has urged citizens to take a cautious approach as restrictions begin to ease.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, the president of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for public health, Lothar Wieler, warned that, while more data is needed, health officials are concerned that existing vaccines could be less effective against the emerging variant.

While Wieler raised concerns about the ability of current vaccines to protect against the Indian strain, he accepted that the level of knowledge about the mutation was still low and that officials expect to have a better picture of the situation within the next couple of weeks.

Health Minister Jens Spahn warned citizens that, despite Covid restrictions being relaxed for the upcoming Pentecost long weekend, they should behave cautiously to avoid a resurgence in new infections.

Beer gardens, cafes, and restaurants are opening up on Friday in Germany, allowing drinkers and diners to enjoy outdoor service for the first time in several months if they can present proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test.

Concern about the effectiveness of vaccines against the Indian variant comes as health officials report that 40% of the German population has now received one dose of a jab, with more than 10 million people having now had two.

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The comments about the Indian strain followed a statement from the German Health Minister that the government was reassessing its travel arrangements with the UK, after a small number of cases of the new mutation were detected in Britain.

Germany currently has a number of border restrictions in place to help prevent mutated strains of Covid-19 from being imported into the country, requiring arrivals to present a negative Covid test, or proof of full vaccination or recent recovery from infection.

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