Police searched the mayor’s offices in the city of Halle in central Germany on Monday following reports that city officials had been vaccinated against the coronavirus in advance. The country is currently focusing on vaccinating health workers, the elderly and people with pre-existing illnesses.
The likely charge, prosecutors said, was the misappropriation of state-supplied items. Federal remaining dose orders prioritize those considered most vulnerable to COVID-19.
The German authorities in the Land of Saxony-Anhalt, where Halle is located, accuse Mayor Bernd Wiegand of having broken the orders in at least 585 cases.
Bernd Wiegand from Halle refused to skip the queue
Wiegand flatly dismissed the charges over the weekend, saying getting vaccinated himself and others with “central statutory functions” in January was appropriate because priority beneficiaries could not be reached at the time. .
Wiegand said those vaccinated included 29 members of Halle City Council and the crisis management team.
Vaccines from Saxony-Anhalt?
Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff told Reuters news agency on Monday that he viewed Saxony-Anhalt – formerly part of Soviet-dominated East Germany – as a future German center for vaccine manufacturing .
Saxony-Anhalt already had three such sites producing the BioNTech-Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, he said, and given his former Soviet experience, its people had no reservations about establishing local production of the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V.
Haseloff said that during the Cold War in the early 1960s, East Germans received their polio vaccines earlier overall, after the Soviet Union’s rare cooperation with an American scientist, Albert Sabin. For a few years, the ideological tensions of the Cold War led Western governments to reject the best vaccine option, but the West eventually adopted it as well.
ipj / dj (TBEN, dpa, epd)