Belgium ordered 30 million corona vaccines from various producers through the EU purchase programme. The number is largely in excess of the country’s needs given its population. Part of the surplus is being handed to Covax.
Belgian international development minister Kitir (Vooruit/Flemish socialist) announced the decision of Belgian health ministers. A first donation of at least 164,200 doses will be shipped at the end of July, but the shipment may total up to 618,802 doses. The uncertainty regarding the number is due to the last-minute confirmation of supplies by producers.
Belgium only used the Oxford vaccine (AstraZeneca) on over 41s due to concern about possible blood clots. Most older people have now already been jabbed. In all Belgium ordered 7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Ms Kitir told lawmakers that people here would only be safe if more people are vaccinated worldwide. More donations are expected in future, but Belgium will retain a reserve intended by a possible third booster jab.
Belgium is also recognising Covishield, the Oxford vaccine manufactured in India. Covishield never applied for EU recognition as it was never ordered or shipped here. In developing countries this lack of recognition has led to reluctance to use this jab.
“Belgium is breaking down the stigma attached to Covishield” says Ms Kitir. “It can motivate more people to get the jab using Covax: it speeds up the process of making everybody safe”.