Lack of responsibility in Belgium: Confront the government’s shortcomings in handling the crisis
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Lack of responsibility in Belgium: Confront the government’s shortcomings in handling the crisis

Wednesday, 24 March 2021
This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.

Belgians are known to be diplomatic and non-confrontational. To understand why, you need to analyse our history.

Last Wednesday, I went to check out ‘Park Spoor Oost’, the largest vaccination center in Antwerp. I was expecting a busy chaos but the centre was closed: “no vaccination today”.

I spoke to a nurse who works in the Drijhoek, a large centre in Geel. She told me they can hardly get their hands on vaccines. Frustrating, no? Especially knowing that there are more than 600 000 doses in stock and everyday this number is getting bigger, just check www.covid-vaccinatie.be.

An article in this morning’s ‘Gazet van Antwerpen’ triggered a need to voice my worries. Wouter Beke, one of our 9 health ministers, was angry that some centres want to vaccinate people under 65 with their left-over doses (due to no-shows). Beke doesn’t want this: centres need to strictly follow the plan to only vaccinate group-by-group, age-by-age to avoid chaos.

Every day newspapers and tv shows are talking about the number of infections; nobody talks about the number of vaccinated people. Is there a ‘Pax Media’ enforced by the government to take the focus away from the slow-paced vaccination program?

Even Mark Van Ranst, the Belgian chief epidemiologist, agreed yesterday on Belgian TV that the vaccination program is too slow. The reporter wondered what the exact strategy is and why it is so slow. He asked Van Ranst but he didn’t even know who the end-responsible is for the vaccination strategy.

Now, I don’t want our newspapers to become tabloids, but at least in the UK, the media confronts the government with their shortcomings. Here, the press only seems to inform us about (some) facts.

The UK vaccinates close to a million people per day, 27 vaccines per second.

A year ago the popularity of Boris Johnson was below zero due to Brexit. Today, thanks to “his” fast-paced vaccination strategy, he is close to becoming a national hero.

Politicians in Belgium: stop ordering studies on who to vaccinate first or which sectors can be opened or closed. Just vaccinate.

I am Belgian, so I want to be diplomatic and non-confrontational, therefore I doubted a long time to write this protest. This is not intended to frustrate any care workers because without you, things would be much worse.