'Gigantic problem': Belgium's vaccination campaign further delayed

'Gigantic problem': Belgium's vaccination campaign further delayed
Credit: Belga

Belgium’s vaccination rollout against the coronavirus has been delayed following the news that two vaccine deliveries will be decreased this week, Flemish health minister Wouter Beke announced on Tuesday.

Both Moderna and AstraZeneca adjusted the number of doses they would deliver at the end of this month, which means people aged over 65 now will not receive their first jabs until 22 or 29 March, instead of earlier in the same month, as was initially planned.

“That is later than expected,” Beke said in the Commission meeting of the Flemish Parliament, adding that the reduction in deliveries poses a "gigantic problem for the operational planning of not only the vaccination centres, but also the hospitals and disabled facilities."

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It is not clear what the effect will be on the rest of the country's campaign, as Beke said that he "does not dare to anticipate" and that the instability of the deliveries makes planning "very difficult."

AstraZeneca decreased its deliveries for the next two weeks, with Belgium receiving just 109,600 doses instead of 204,616, equating to slightly more than half of the number it was promised.

"Deviations in the delivery schedule may occur due to the specific production process, however each dose produced will be made available immediately," the company has since said, adding that it is making every effort to meet its commitment to deliver more than 1 million doses of its vaccine to Belgium by 21 March.

Beke had already criticised vaccine manufacturer Moderna, after it said it would deliver just a quarter of the doses it had promised Belgium on 15 February, and couldn’t do so until 25 February.

Lauren Walker

The Brussels Times

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