Belgium’s phased vaccination programme is moving ahead as planned, Vaccination Task Force member Sabine Stordeur said on Saturday.
The time lapse between the arrival of the doses in Belgium and their delivery to vaccination centres needs to be taken into account, Ms Stordeur, who is the scientific programme director at the Federal Healthcare Expertise Centre, explained.
Moreover, the vaccines have not always been delivered in the numbers promised, she added.
AstraZeneca, for example, has only supplied 25% to 30% of the doses it had promised Belgium for the first quarter of this year.
By 25 March, 2,083,635 doses of vaccines against Covid-19 had been delivered to Belgium, the Taskforce indicated.
However, if the five days needed for them to be delivered to the vaccination centres are factored in, the real figure is 1,878,165 doses. This is due to the fact that to be ready for injection, the doses need, for example, to be supplied with the attendant equipment, such as syringes, and this stage, like others, is part of a process that takes days.
The Task Force also defended itself against reports claiming there are 500,000 to 600,000 “dormant” doses, which it described as a “myth.”
“The real figure is at most 160,000, and this is a number that cannot be compressed because the vaccination centres need these reserves to be able to offset delivery delays by suppliers,” Ms. Stordeur explained.
The pharmaceutical companies will soon have additional production sites in Europe, since the European Medicines Agency, EMA, gave the green light for such facilities this week. Pfizer will have one in Germany, AstraZeneca in the Netherlands and Moderna in Switzerland.
The approach on people who refuse vaccination will be modified, the Task Force announced. Those who reject the invitation to take the shot can change their minds and obtain a second appointment, at worst in a later phase of the process.