Health Minister says that extra Pfizer vaccines mean that vaccination programme can be speeded up

The Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) has told VRT News that now it is certain that Belgium will receive 7.5 million extra doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine he will ask the Vaccination Task Force to revise the National Vaccination Plan. However, Mr Vandenbroucke added that although the vaccination programme can now be speeded it still won’t have been completed before the summer. 

Belgium is certain to receive 7.5 million of the 300 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that have been ordered by the European Union. 4.4 million doses of the vaccine will be delivered to Belgium during the second quarter (April, May and June) of this year. This will enable the vaccination of 2.2 million people. As the additional vaccines were not taken into account when the current vaccination programme was drawn up, the Federal Health Minister will now ask the Vaccination Task Force to draw up a new plan, accelerating the rate at which people in Belgium are vaccinated against coronavirus.

Mr Vandenbroucke told VRT News that the implementation of the vaccination plan will be speeded up from April.

Under the existing vaccination roll out plan, all those that wish to be vaccinated should have been given a vaccine by sometime in September. Now Belgium is sure that it is to receive an extra 4.4 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine during the second quarter the vaccination plan can be implemented more quickly. However, the Health Minister refuses to pin a date on when he expects it to be completed.

What is clear is that the extra Pfizer vaccines won’t be sufficient to vaccinate everyone that wants to be vaccinated before the summer. “But they will allow us to speed things up considerably”, Mr Vandebroucke said.

The Health Minister also warned of eventual setbacks. For example, with regard to the AstraZeneca vaccine. “It is not yet known how effective it is and when it will be available. We are also waiting for other vaccines that are still in the pipeline. We now have a stroke of luck that we can buy extra vaccines from Pfizer, but there can also be setbacks along the way”. 

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