“No safe haven from coronavirus ahead of Christmas”

Belgian health minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) has urged great caution about the news that the coronavirus vaccine that Pfizer and BioNTech are developing is protecting nine out of ten people who get the jab. “This is a press release from a corporation.  This isn’t independent scientific research.  Even if it is confirmed we must stick to the facts.  It will take months for the vaccine to come to market.  It’s not like getting a tablet from your chemist.  Specific storage methods are required.  Production still needs to start.”

“The vaccine could be ready by the spring, but you won’t hear me saying that.  We need to be particularly careful.  A great joint effort will be needed to vanquish this virus.  We’re heading for a difficult winter.”

Mr Vandenbroucke is heartened by the latest corona figures.  This happened thanks to everybody’s efforts and the decisions on 19 October including the closure of hospitality. We can’t throw this away now.”

Next week schools reopen after the extended break. Corona measures will be re-examined on 1 December, but Mr Vandenbroucke refused to be drawn on relaxations ahead of Christmas. “First we need to reach a safe port.  Circulation of the virus must be limited as much as possible ahead of relaxations.  Our dikes, i.e. test strategy and contact tracing, must hold first.  I don’t believe we will have reached a safe port before Christmas.”

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