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Belgium says UK rushed vaccines, UK says otherwise

Credit: Belga

Comments by Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter that the UK was taking fewer precautions regarding vaccine approval have been met with strict opposition from across the channel.

Speaking on Tuesday, De Sutter told VRT that the United Kingdom was taking “fewer” precautions, believing that the country, like Russia and China, was “in the process of vaccinating people with vaccines that do not have the same standards as those we use.”

“Barely three months ago, a lot of people were worried and had the criticism that a safe vaccine could not be developed in less than a year. The United Kingdom took a shortcut, speeding up the procedure. They took a risk,” she added.

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The UK government launched its vaccination campaign against Covid with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on 8 December, a vaccine which then saw EMA approval at the end of December. The UK then swiftly followed with the approval of AstraZeneca/Oxford’s vaccine – which reports have said the EU is unlikely to approve in January.

Speaking on the UK timeframe, a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was no rush on their part. “We did not rush to approve the vaccines,” he told reporters, according to AFP.

According to statements by the UK health regulator (MHRA), the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines had been licensed in the UK after a rigorous and exhaustive review.

As of Wednesday, with the approval of the Moderna, the EU too has two vaccines in circulation, with the Pfizer/BioNTech already being rolled out in Belgian nursing homes.

Belgium is expecting a first limited delivery of the Moderna vaccine in February, but an exact date has not been set yet, according to Flemish Welfare Minister Wouter Beke’s cabinet.

The Brussels Times