70 percent of the Belgian population could be vaccinated by the end of the summer, with hospital staff potentially receiving jabs by the end of January, an official of the government’s task force announced on Friday.
Vaccination task force head Dirk Ramaekers told the health committee of the Belgian Chamber of representatives that health staff and doctors will receive the jab by the end of January and February respectively, followed by people over 65 and at-risk patients as of March. The revamped schedule means that younger people could receive their shot in June.
On the basis of current projections, the country hopes that about 9 million Belgians will be vaccinated by September — provided 200 extra vaccination centers are created by March and vaccines are authorized in time.
Ramaekers and his task force presented their revamped strategy to the chamber after facing growing criticism over the slow pace of the rollout. The plan is still a proposition; to be effective, it needs to be validated by an interministerial conference and a consultation committee with national and regional ministers on January 22.
Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke welcomed the plan, saying that life could be normal again by the summer.
The acceleration has been partly possible thanks to a clearer commitment from Pfizer on its next deliveries, as well as the fact that six — rather than five — doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine can be extracted from one vial. The announcement by the European Commission to reserve up to 300 million extra doses of this vaccine will also speed up the rollout.
This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.
Belgium aims to vaccinate 70 percent of population by end of summer The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Politico.