"On the one hand, we are living in the toughest phase of the pandemic," Spahn said, adding that vaccines provided "a light at the end of the tunnel."
In an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio broadcaster, he again rejected the idea of compulsory vaccinations.
"I gave my word in the Bundestag [national parliament]: There will be no compulsory vaccinations in this pandemic," Spahn said, adding that the government was instead focusing on information campaigns to foster trust, dpa reported.
Also on Wednesday, figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) showed that the number of Covid-19-related deaths in Germany remained at a high level and went up by 1,060 within one day, bringing the death toll in the country to 42,637.
Another 19,600 people in Germany tested positive for Covid-19 in a 24-hour period, taking the total to more than 1.95 million, according to the government agency for disease control and prevention.
The new virus variant that was detected in South Africa and was possibly associated with higher transmissibility had been "identified sporadically in Germany," the RKI noted.
The German government was looking into adapting entry restrictions and testing obligations as well as introducing more genome sequencing in the lab to further contain the spread of Covid-19, local media reported.
Although the 7-day incidence observed over the Christmas holidays and the turn of the year had declined, the RKI warned that "significant increases" were now observed in all age groups, in particular in the younger age groups between 15 and 39 years.
Germany has so far administered the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine to 688,782 people, or 8.3 per 1,000 residents, according to Tuesday's data from RKI, dpa said.
The vaccination drive has so far focused on the most vulnerable in the pandemic, such as the elderly and their carers. Germany is currently using two vaccines -- from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna -- both of which require two doses to effectively prevent Covid-19, dpa said.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in Germany and some other countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 236 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 63 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on January 12.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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