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The head of Germany’s vaccine agency said several groups of people living in Germany could be vaccinated against the coronavirus early next year that killed hundreds of thousands of people and wreaked havoc on the world economy.

More than half a dozen drug manufacturers around the world are performing comprehensive clinical trials, each involving tens of thousands of participants and most hope to learn if their COVID-19 vaccines will perform and be effective by the end of this year.

Klaus Cichutek, head of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, told newspaper community Funke that evidence from Phase I and Phase II trials showed that certain vaccines caused an immune response to coronavirus.

“When results from Phase III trials indicate that the vaccines are successful and safe, at the beginning of the year, the first vaccinations may be accepted, probably with conditions attached,” he said.

“Based on manufacturers’ promises, the first doses will be available for citizens in Germany at that time, in accordance with the goals set by the Standing Committee on Vaccination,” Cichutek said, referring to the body that makes recommendations on the use of approved vaccines in Germany.

More than 22 million people worldwide have been infected by the coronavirus since it was first identified in China late last year. Nearly 800,000 perished.

Many firms, including Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer Inc, say they are each expecting a vaccine to take over 1 billion doses next year.

German biotechnology firm CureVac has not ruled out a timely approval process for its prospective vaccine and expects to get it on the market by mid-2021.

“Based on manufacturers’ promises, the first doses will be available for citizens in Germany at that time, in accordance with the goals set by the Standing Committee on Vaccination,” Cichutek said, referring to the body that makes recommendations on the use of approved vaccines in Germany.

Infections in Germany have risen in recent weeks and data on infectious diseases from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on Wednesday showed the number of reported cases of coronavirus climbing by 1,510 to 226,914.

The RKI said 39 percent of cases have possibly been imported, with Kosovo, Turkey and Croatia most commonly identified in recent weeks as the possible source of infection.

Many firms, including Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer Inc, say they are each expecting a vaccine to take over 1 billion doses next year.

German biotechnology firm CureVac has not ruled out a timely approval process for its prospective vaccine and expects to get it on the market by mid-2021.

By the end of this month, Russia has announced that it will deliver its vaccine.

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