Belgian PM confirms arrival of first coronavirus vaccines before year-end
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Belgian PM confirms arrival of first coronavirus vaccines before year-end

Credit: Brussels Airport

Belgium will receive the first doses of Covid-19 vaccine before the end of the year, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed on Tuesday.

During a visit to Brussels Airport on Tuesday, De Croo confirmed previous reports that the first doses of the shot would be delivered to Belgium by late December, RTL reports.

In statements on Monday, De Croo said that target groups would get priority access to the vaccine and warned that there would not be enough shots to immediately vaccinate the wider population.

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The visit comes as the national airport ramps up preparations to receive and distribute the vaccines in Belgium and potentially also Europe, according to a press release.

Brussels Airport has extensive experience and infrastructure for the handling of pharmaceuticals which it has seized on to create an ad-hoc taskforce for the reception, storage and transport of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The airport also has a 30,000 square-metre of temperature-controlled storage areas —the most in Europe—, as well as a technology enabling real-time temperature tracking throughout the entire transportation process.

It remains so far unclear which vaccine will be the one to arrive in Belgium first. So far, three companies (AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech) have announced their vaccine candidates showed promising results, with efficacy rates between 70 and 95%.

Belgium’s own drugs agency authority said its Advisory Committee on vaccine procurement has so far granted the green light to the vaccine candidates of Janssen Pharmaceutica and AstraZeneca.

The vaccines still need to get market approval from the EU’s top drug agency, the EMA, without which Belgium would withdraw its previous approval, according to an online statement.

The EMA on Monday said that an ongoing review of at least the three most advanced vaccine candidates could be completed by early 2021, paving the way for market authorisation within months.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times