Belgium ‘on the right track’ to organise mass Covid-19 vaccinations
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Belgium ‘on the right track’ to organise mass Covid-19 vaccinations

Credit: Belga

Belgium is “on the right track” in the organisation of mass vaccination against the coronavirus, according to Xavier De Cuyper of the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP).

“We will undoubtedly work with several vaccines. Some may be more interesting for the elderly, others for certain pathologies. It is a puzzle,” he said in the Covid-19 special committee on Friday.

“The sooner we get organised with the federated entities, the easier it will be for everyone,” De Cuyper added.

Additionally, he stressed the current difficulty in obtaining supplies of one-millilitre syringes. “For the vaccinators, it will not be easy to go and pump the correct dose into a vial containing vaccine for 10 people,” he said.

“The agency took it upon itself to buy the syringes, needles and other materials that were still available for purchase,” De Cuyper added.

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When asked how a vaccine can be authorised on the market in such a short period of time, he explained that emulation between teams of researchers around the world “makes science progress much more quickly.”

“But above all, it departs from the normal procedure of waiting for all the scientific information to be submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA),” De Cuyper said. “Here, whenever relevant information is available, it is forwarded and examined. Is it less valid? Not at all. The organisation is just different.”

He also pointed to the “unique” collaboration between EU Member States on advance purchase of vaccines, referring to the European Commission, which has authorised a fourth contract with pharmaceutical companies this week.

On Tuesday 10 November, vaccinologist Pierre Van Damme stated that Belgium should start working on a script for the fast and effective distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine once it is ready.

According to him, Belgium will have to make use of the coming weeks and months to work out a script and work on the logistics of distributing the vaccine.

“How are we going to organise the distribution, what about the cold chain for storage and transport, who is going to administer the vaccines: these are just a few of the questions we have to answer,” Van Damme said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times