BERLIN, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control on Friday reported a new daily record of 23,648 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the country's tally to 879,564 since the beginning of the pandemic.
The COVID-19 situation in Germany remains "serious, very serious," said RKI President Lothar Wieler at a press conference on Thursday. Although the country has been in a partial lockdown since Nov. 2, case numbers are "still very high overall, much too high."
The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in Germany increased by 260 on Friday to a total of 13,630, the RKI said.
The number of COVID-19 patients who require intensive care treatment increased to 3,588 on Thursday.
The country's intensive care units (ICUs) are becoming overloaded. According to the DIVI online registry for intensive care beds, almost 80 percent of the country's 28,000 ICUs are currently occupied.
Some hospitals in Germany could soon reach capacity and patients could no longer receive optimal care, warned Wieler.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that a COVID-19 vaccine would be available soon. She said at a press conference that she expected a vaccine to be approved in Europe in December or "very soon after the turn of the year."
On Friday, German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and U.S. company Pfizer submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorization of their vaccine.
The two companies have concluded the Phase 3 trial of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate known as BNT162b2, and said that it met "all of the study's primary efficacy endpoints" and had an efficacy rate of 95 percent.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries including Germany, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.
According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Nov. 12, there were 212 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 48 of them were in clinical trials.