German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on March 4. Markus Schreiber / AP

Germany will “maximally” extend the interval between the administration of the first and second dose of Covid-19 vaccines, announced Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.

She said there will be a 42-day gap for the second dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech shot and a 12-week gap for the second dose of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine.

This allows us to vaccinate more people for the first vaccination faster. This is also recommended by the STIKO [Germany’s vaccine commission]”Said Merkel.

The Chancellor also said Germany would try to quickly distribute the shots through its network of primary care practices in an effort to expedite the adoption of coronavirus vaccines.

“At the end of March and beginning of April, the second line will be the delivery of vaccines to general practitioners in addition to the vaccination centers, so that the entire vaccination process becomes even more flexible,” she announced.

The change in the German dosage strategy came after real data from studies appeared to confirm the UK’s strategy of vaccinating as many high-risk people as possible with a first dose of vaccine and delaying the second shot.

UK policy calls for both Pfizer / BioNTech and AstraZeneca second doses to be given towards the end of the recommended vaccination schedule of 12 weeks, allowing more than 20 million people to receive a first vaccine dose.

According to official figures, Germany has given around 4 million first doses and 2 million second doses since the start of its vaccination campaign in January.

The country’s vaccination authority has also approved the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus, which has been used in people over 65, the German health ministry told CNN on Thursday.

“The Standing Vaccination Commission recommends the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over 65 years of age,” said Health Minister Jens Spahn in a statement.
“This is good news for any elderly person waiting to be vaccinated. You can be vaccinated faster. “

The statement added that new study data showed that if the interval between the first and second vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine is increased to twelve weeks, “it is even more effective”.

In January of this year, the German Vaccine Commission announced that AstraZeneca should not be given to people over 65 due to insufficient data on its effectiveness.

The U-turn comes after data from Public Health England released Monday suggests that a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective against serious infections and hospitalizations in the elderly.