Belgium’s hearings to discuss whether a general vaccination obligation or a vaccination pass will start in the Federal Parliament today.
Over the coming weeks, the case for and against a mandatory coronavirus vaccination will be put by 32 experts from various fields before the Parliamentary Committee on Health.
Before the speakers started, group leader of the Flemish right-wing N-VA party Peter De Roover pointed out “the great polarisation in society” and thanked all the political parties who brought in a “very wide range of speakers. ”
He welcomed the debate and the diversity of views that will be heard. However, he added that although “we are giving the floor to everyone, it does not mean that we will follow everyone’s views.”
De Roover hopes that the debate “can have a depoliticising effect,” he said. “This can be a very positive and very important moment. We must succeed in raising the discussion to a higher level.”
On Wednesday morning, Doctor Luc Herry (President of the Belgian Association of Physicians’ Syndicates) and the vaccine-critical veterinarian Geert Vanden Bossche (Voice for Science and Solidarity) are expected to speak.
De eerste hoorzitting in de commissie #Gezondheid over de vaccinatieplicht gaat van start, met L. Herry (BVAS @bvastweets) en @GVDBossche (Voice for Science and Solidarity) > Live: https://t.co/HZxWy7xMdg pic.twitter.com/A51WLcl9po
— NieuwsuitDeKamer (@DeKamerBE) January 26, 2022
Vanden Bossche was put forward by the Flemish far-right Vlaams Belang party and argues that all coronavirus vaccinations should be stopped, as he warns it will create a kind of “super mutant” coronavirus.
Among Belgian scientists, most of Vanden Bossche’s statements are generally dismissed, but he is an important figurehead for many vaccine sceptics. In Parliament, he is speaking under the banner of his own established project ‘Voice for Science and Solidarity.’
In the afternoon, neurobiologist Liliane Schoofs (who signed the so-called “Winter Manifesto” calling for a different coronavirus policy), paediatrician Ann De Guchtenaere (UGent), virologist Johan Neyts (KU Leuven) and his colleague Emmanuel André (KU Leuven) are scheduled to speak.
Unfortunately, the contentious nature of the discussion has seen some speakers come under external pressure. Emmanuel André said on Twitter that he had received threats ahead of his appearance in Parliament: “For people who claim to defend our freedoms, I find it worrying that they are seeking to prevent parliamentary procedures.”
The hearings can be followed via the Chamber’s website (in Dutch and in French) here.