Due to the increasing circulation of the Delta coronavirus variant (initially detected in India), Belgium’s Vaccination Taskforce stressed the importance of getting both vaccination doses in time.
“[The Delta variant] is making a rapid ascent, and is making us run a race against time,” said Gudrun Briat, spokesperson for the Taskforce, during a press conference on Tuesday.
“It is very important that you also get a second shot. Only then will you be properly protected against this more infectious and aggressive variant,” she said, adding that for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, only one shot is needed for good protection.
Additionally, the threshold for herd immunity should be raised due to the Delta variant as well, according to Briat. “Higher than the 70% that was assumed at the start of the vaccination campaign [will be needed]. Only in this way can we sustainably return to normal life.”
Last week, virologist Steven Van Gucht already said that the vaccination rate should be “as high as possible,” while also saying there was “no magic number” for the vaccination rate to be sufficient.
Belgian vaccinologist Pierre Van Damme stated that the threshold should be raised to 85% to 90% to be safe, especially when taking some of the variants into account.
With this higher threshold in mind, the Taskforce hopes that vaccinated people will convince people who do not want to get vaccinated in their surroundings. “That is not only the government’s task,” Briat said.
In the meantime, Belgium reached a new milestone, as 840,000 people were vaccinated in one week, a new record since the start of the campaign.
“For the 55-64 age category, 80% has now received their first dose, and we are also on the right track with the 45 to 54-year-olds,” she said, adding that 57% of that group has already been vaccinated for the first time.