Nearly 50,000 Belgians have been vaccinated since rollout began
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Nearly 50,000 Belgians have been vaccinated since rollout began

Credit: Belga

Nearly 50,000 people have been vaccinated in Belgium since the official launch of the vaccine rollout at the beginning of January, according to figures compiled by Sciensano on Friday.

In total, 49,847 people have received the first injection of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, according to initial figures.

After a pilot phase started on 28 December, the large-scale vaccination campaign began on 5 January among residents and staff of rest and care homes. A total of 17% of the target audience in these institutions has now been covered.

The number is nevertheless underestimated because there is a delay between the time of vaccination and registration in the database of the national register, stressed the inter-federal spokesman Yves Van Laethem.

In addition to the data provided by pharmaceutical producers, “each batch of vaccine that crosses the borders of the European Union is once again checked by an official and independent laboratory. In Belgium, this is done by the public health institute Sciensano, which is authorised by the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP),” said his Dutch-speaking counterpart Steven Van Gucht.

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Up until now, only the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech was available for use as it was the only vaccine with a conditional marketing authorisation in the EU, until the Moderna vaccine was approved by the EU on 6 January.

Belgium will start administering the Moderna vaccine on Monday, starting with four hospitals including one in Brussels.

The two vaccines could be joined by that of AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford at the end of January as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has received a formal application for authorisation.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times