“No repeat of the quick relaxations of May and June”
The news that Pfizer and BioNTech are developing a vaccine that in tests is proving to protect 90% of those inoculated has raised hopes of a speedy return to the old normal. Geert Molenberghs, a biostatistician and member of the new corona commissariat, too is hopeful, but he warns that a lot still needs to be happen.
“The vaccine does still need to be approved. An enormous logistic operation to roll out the vaccine will then be required. It’s going to take time. We’re aiming for a period between the spring and the summer of next year. Pfizer will need a whole year to meet their goal of 1.3 million doses. As you need two doses per person this means you can inoculate 650 million people. The world population is ten times that. More will be needed than this sole vaccine. Once there is a vaccine – and let’s hope other vaccines will follow – we can start to inoculate the most vulnerable. That will solve a lot of the problem.”
Geert Molenberghs is now at work at Pedro Falcon’s corona commissariat. Here experts are considering when any relaxation of corona measures will be possible. The authorities intend to be stricter this time round.
“The GEES that advised during the relaxation of measures after the first lockdown did tremendous work, but we reopened society a bit too enthusiastically in May/June. We don’t want a repeat. Our hope is to get through the period leading up to the roll out of the vaccine without too many accidents.”
Schools reopen for 1.2 million Flemish children next week. The commissariat will be keeping tabs on any impact on the epidemiological situation. Geert Molenberghs: “Then we can look at further relaxations. We’ve learned to give each step enough time for it to be evaluated. It’s better to wait too long than to see the infection rate rise again. We can’t allow ourselves to end up in that kind of situation again.”