Belgium could rethink deconfinement strategy in April or May
Tuesday, 26 January 2021
Belgium could start rethinking its set thresholds for relaxations in April or May, when most people over 65 years old have been vaccinated, health officials stated on Tuesday.
At this rate, most of Belgium’s at-risk population in residential care centres and hospitals should be protected against Covid-19 around mid-February, according to interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Yves Van Laethem.
However, it will be necessary to wait until the people over 65 years old are vaccinated before Belgium can consider adapting its deconfinement strategy, in April or May, he said.
According to Van Laethem, “an enormous number of people” will still remain potentially at risk, referring to everyone over 65 and all those between 45 and 65 with underlying conditions.
“Only after mass vaccination of this population, we could see a more significant impact on hospitalisations,” he said, adding that this will only be the case if the vaccines prove to be as effective against the new variants that are also circulating.
In these circumstances, “Belgium could consider looking at the factors that we know to be important, such as the number of new infections and hospitalisations, differently.”
The number of infections could then become less important in the deconfinement strategy, while it is currently as important as the number of hospitalisations, according to Van Laethem, who pointed to the thresholds of 800 infections and 75 hospitalisations per day before relaxations will be possible.
However, it will “probably be necessary to wait until April or May to consider such a change in our calculations,” he added.
Additionally, after everyone who wishes in the residential care centres has been vaccinated, “we hope to see a drastic reduction in the overall number of deaths in our country,” Van Laethem said.
However, this group currently represents about 20% of the Covid-19 intensive care beds occupied in Belgium, he pointed out. “The breath of fresh air for our healthcare system will therefore remain limited.”