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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - BERLIN — Germany received its first doses of US pharmaceutical firm Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, doubling the number of available vaccines in the country to two, following the start of inoculations with the BioNTech/Pfizer treatment on Dec. 27.
Some 2 million doses of the Moderna vaccine are to arrive in Germany by the end of the first quarter, and some 50 million doses by the end of the year, according to Health Minister Jens Spahn.
Like the product from German firm BioNTech and US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, the one from Moderna is also a so-called mRNA vaccine, said dpa international.
Both vaccines are "equivalent in effectiveness and safety," according to Thomas Mertens, head of the German vaccine commission. Both require two jabs, with three to four weeks in between.
Recipients will not have a choice as to whether they receive the Moderna vaccine or its equivalent from BioNTech/Pfizer.
Meanwhile, a coronavirus variant that was identified in South Africa has been found in Germany for the first time, the Social Affairs Ministry in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said on Tuesday.
The mutation B.1.351 (also called 501Y.V2) was identified in a patient in the southern German state. The individual had recently returned with family from a longer stay in South Africa.
All the family members had taken a coronavirus test five days after arrival, which reportedly resulted negative. A week later, however, family members began showing mild symptoms.
Six persons from three households were now confirmed to have caught the virus, of whom one had contracted the South African variant. Samples from the other patients were being tested, the Social Affairs Ministry said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged extreme caution in containing another virus mutation that was identified in Britain.
The variant could "take the lead over the old virus" in a very short amount of time, Merkel said during a meeting of the Christian Democrats, according to participants.
Merkel said the good news was that the vaccine was still effective against the mutation, but its spread was much faster, which could result in an exponential growth of infections once more.
More than 680,000 people have received the first dose against Covid-19 in Germany so far, according to the latest data from the nation's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control. — Bahrain News Agency
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