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Belgium in Brief: Bonus Round (for Belgian Vaccines)

Credit: Belga

If 2020 was the year that the C, O, R, N, A, V, I, U & S keys on all of our laptops were beginning to wear thin because of how many times we typed the word coronavirus, then 2021 will be the year that V, A, C & I finally break, while N & E start to struggle under the weight of vaccine news.

Just last week, Europe had access to vaccines in large numbers (but according to experts, not large enough) – but after Moderna’s approval, some advanced syringes, and a new order placed with Pfizer, there’s more than ever for Belgium. 

On top of the 300 million doses already ordered, this means that the EU will have a total of 600 million doses from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

To Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, this bonus order is a “game changer.”

“Doubling the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines means that we can protect more people more quickly in our country too,” he added.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:



1. Belgium unlikely to relax (or tighten) measures today

Belgium’s coronavirus measures are unlikely to be tightened or relaxed following the Consultative Committee today, with politicians seemingly agreeing that it is still too early for changes.

The meeting will take place virtually, and start at 2:00 PM, the cabinet of Prime Minister De Croo confirmed to The Brussels Times. Additionally, no press conference is planned afterwards. Read more.

2. Belgium gains 20% more vaccines by using ‘bonus dose’

Belgian health workers have managed to increase the number of vaccines available in the country thanks to the use of highly efficient syringes to consistently draw out a “bonus dose” from the glass vials that contain Pfizer’s vaccine.

While official instructions say one vial of Pfizer vaccine contains five doses, in practice Belgian health workers are able to use syringes to extract the additional margin provided in the vial, which amounts to 20% more vaccine doses. Read More.

3. Covid positive man spits at police, 24 officers quarantined

24 police officers in the Flemish city of Aalst have been placed in quarantine after an incident involving a coronavirus positive man spitting on officers.

Police were called out on Tuesday following complaints of vandalism. When they arrived a the scene they found a man not wearing a mask, who then proceeded to spit at several police officers following a confrontation. Read More.

4. Thousands returned to Belgium with coronavirus, expert warns

Somewhere between 2,500 to 5,000 people who travelled during the winter vacations likely returned to Belgium with a coronavirus infection, according to biostatistician Geert Molenberghs (UHasselt and KU Leuven).

While 80,000 people filled out a “Passenger Locator Form” during the second week of the Christmas vacations, only 11% were tested and 3.7% of them were positive for Covid-19, Molenberghs said. Read More.

5. Belgium prepares ‘plan C’ to fight UK coronavirus variant

Belgium’s group of experts, which advises the government on how to deal with the pandemic, is preparing a comprehensive plan for if the coronavirus situation worsens dramatically. Read More.

6. Belgium’s coronavirus figures continue to fall, but more slowly now

All of Belgium’s major coronavirus indicators are continuing to drop, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Friday.

Between 29 December and 4 January, an average of 1,664 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 2% decrease compared to the week before. Read more.

7. Brussels court rejects extradition of Catalan politician to Spain

A Brussels court has turned down a request from Spain for the extradition of the Catalan politician Lluis Puig for his involvement in an illegal independence referendum in the province.

Puig has been resident in Belgium since 2017, after he and a group of fellow supporters of the independence of Catalonia were charged with dereliction of duty and misuse of public funds, relating to the organisation of a referendum on independence in violation of a court order to desist. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times