Lothar Wieler, director of the Robert Koch Institute, said he was very worried and there were clear signs that the third wave had already started in Germany.
Thursday marks a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic.
There is still an urgent need to remain strict on protective measures such as wearing masks and keeping a distance despite the start of vaccinations, Wieler told UN reporters in Geneva on Wednesday.
The vaccination campaign is a race against the changing virus, but the finish line is in sight, he said.
If there were no interruptions, for example due to production shutdowns, 80% of the German population could be immune to the virus by the fall.
If that happens, all measures can be lifted, Wieler said.
On the day the pandemic was declared, 118,000 infections and nearly 4,300 deaths were recorded worldwide.
A year later, WHO statistics showed nearly 120 million infections and some 2.6 million deaths.
The greatest concern of the WHO is the uneven distribution of vaccines.
While the virus spreads unhindered in parts of the world, mutations and variants can pose a threat anywhere, as WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly warned.
Since richer countries have direct contracts with vaccine manufacturers, fewer doses were available in the market for the UN-backed vaccine solidarity alliance, Covax.
An eighth attempt by the World Trade Organization to require more than 100 countries to temporarily suspend patents on coronavirus vaccines to boost production failed on Wednesday. (dpa / NAN)
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