BERLIN: Germany has caught up with the United States in terms of the proportion of the population with a first COVID-19 vaccination, the health minister said on Wednesday, adding the more infectious Delta variant meant it was important to keep up the pace.
The German government came under fire for the sluggish start to its vaccination campaign earlier this year, particularly in comparison with countries such as the United States, Britain and Israel, but it has since ramped up quickly.
“The United States got off to a fast start and today Germany has caught up for the first time with first vaccinations. That shows that the vaccination campaign needs staying power,” minister Jens Spahn said on Twitter.
“Given the Delta variant, it is important that as many people as possible get vaccinated.”
Spahn said 55 percent of the population had now received a first vaccine, while 37 percent has had both shots.
Spahn said on Saturday that supply of vaccines in Germany would soon outstrip demand, which would allow it to offer shots to passers-by in city centers or at places of worship.
Three-quarters of Germans are against compulsory vaccination, a survey by the Forsa polling institute for RTL television showed on Wednesday, while 22 percent are in favor.
The number of coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 808 to 3.728 million on Wednesday, while the death toll rose by 56 to 90,875.