Jens Spahn, German Health Minister

German Health Minister Jens Spahn is aiming to have around 60 per cent of the country’s population vaccinated against the coronavirus by the end of summer 2021

Spahn announced the goal during a televised interview with the ZDF public broadcaster.

It would be at the lower end of the World Health Organisation’s recommended coverage rate of 60-70 per cent.

Spahn also piled further pressure on the EU regulator to authorise the use of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which has already been rolled out in Britain and the U.S.

“Our goal is to have authorisation before Christmas so that we can begin vaccinating this year, including in Germany.

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“In the end, it is up to [the European Medicines Agency] EMA to decide,” he said.

The agency is already working “around the clock,” EMA director Emer Cooke said in Amsterdam on Monday, adding that a decision should arrive before Dec. 29.

Germany is tightening its lockdown measures nationwide following a weekend agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 state premiers.

A partial lockdown launched in early November failed to break the second wave of infections.

Now, all but essential shops are to close and schoolchildren are to largely return to remote learning.

On Tuesday, the Robert Koch Institute for disease control reported another 500 deaths – the third, highest daily toll seen in the country so far – making for a total of 22,475.

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More than 1.3 million cases of infection have been confirmed so far.