Belgium has announced it will be providing emergency aid to Tunisia by delivering 150,000 AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines on Thursday, as the health situation in the country deteriorates.
Tunisia put out a request via the European Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM) as it experienced a sharp increase in hospital admissions and its vaccination coverage rate is still very low, asking for help to speed up the vaccination campaign.
“Belgium wishes to express its solidarity with the Tunisian authorities and population, who are going through a difficult phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. International solidarity is of great importance in the current pandemic context, as none of us is safe until all of us are,” a press release from the FOP Foreign Affairs read.
Aside from donating 150,000 doses, Belgium will also provide intensive care medicines, medical equipment for intensive care units and Personal Protective Equipment (including gloves and masks).
All items that will be delivered originate from the stock of the FPS Public Health that was built up within the framework of the national vaccination campaign.
As this particular vaccine was only used to vaccinate the over -41s, and as Belgium’s vaccination campaign is now mainly targeting younger people, the stock of AstraZeneca vaccines, of which Belgium ordered seven million doses, will no longer be used, which is why they will now be donated.
The other excess vaccines are donated to Covax, the United Nations programme that provides vaccines for countries that cannot afford them themselves.
“Belgium considers this contribution as an encouragement to vaccination based on its own experience and the positive effects of vaccination on the health situation,” the press release read.
In Tunisia, just 7.1% of the population has been fully vaccinated, whilst in Belgium, this figure is over 61% as of Tuesday.