Europe lacks enough vaccines to stop a third wave of the coronavirus, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Spahn said new infections in Germany, and in other European countries, have started to increase again due to new mutations.

“We are now in the third wave of the pandemic, the numbers are rising again, the proportion of mutations is high,” he said, as Germany this week reported the biggest rise of COVID-19 cases since January.

The more contagious UK variant (B.1.1.7) of the virus has become the predominant strain in Germany, making up more than 72% of new cases, compared to about 46% of cases three weeks ago.

Spahn said while Germany and its European partners have stepped up COVID-10 vaccination efforts in recent weeks, this would not be enough to stop the new wave.

“In an honest analysis of the situation, one should say this: In Europe, we do not yet have enough vaccines to stop this third wave by vaccinations alone,” he said.

“Even if EU purchases are delivered in a timely way, it will take some weeks until the risk groups are fully vaccinated,” he added.

Besides Germany, European countries France, Belgium, Poland, Norway, Finland, and Greece this week reported their highest daily numbers of COVID cases in recent months.

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