BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany wants to set up a special task force to help boost investment in vaccine production and build up reserve capacity for the next pandemic so it can become a supplier to the world, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday.
Spahn said many domestic and international vaccine makers wanted to invest in Germany and that the government would appoint a vaccine chief to work with manufacturers and examine how production can be expanded with the help of state support.
“We now have the chance to really strengthen Germany as a vaccine and pharmaceutical location for the next 20 years and to become one of the vaccine production sites of the world,” he told a weekly news conference.
Frustrated by production problems and delivery delays that have hampered the start of its vaccination campaign, Germany also views the pandemic as an opportunity to expand its domestic pharmaceutical industry and become the pharmacy of the world.
Spahn confirmed an earlier Spiegel report that Christoph Krupp, the former head of the Federal Real Estate Agency, will take up the role of vaccine chief to help resolve supply chain bottlenecks and look at how to expand production.
Germany is home to BioNTech and CureVac, two of the leading developers of mRNA vaccines for COVID-19, as well as pharmaceutical giants Bayer and Merck and many small-and-medium-sized suppliers.
Last week, German vaccine contract manufacturer IDT Biologika said it had teamed up with AstraZeneca to expand capacity so it was able to make tens of millions of doses per months of the Anglo-Swedish firm’s vaccine.
Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Maria Sheahan