The various competent ministers from our country meet today to discuss the advice of the Superior Health Council to speed up vaccinations in Belgium. That service was presented with three concrete questions from Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke (sp.a).
With 4.44 percent of the population having received their first dose of the corona vaccine and 2.73 percent having received both doses, our country is in the good middle bracket in the European Union. Globally, however, the differences with countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel are enormous.
That is why Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke wants to investigate this week how our country can vaccinate faster and more efficiently. To this end, the sp.a politician addressed three questions to the Superior Health Council.
They had to give advice on whether the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine could possibly also be given three weeks later, whether the AstraZeneca vaccine could still be used for all people over 18 and whether one dose of the corona vaccine could not (for the time being) is sufficient.
AstraZeneca vaccine for all ages
The Superior Health Council was clear about the AstraZeneca vaccine. The only reason why our country initially did not want to give the drug to people over 55 years old is because there were not enough studies or its effectiveness within that age group. These studies are now available and are also confirmed in countries that have never put an age limit on the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Waiting time between doses for Pfizer vaccine can be longer
There was also slightly positive advice from the Superior Health Council about postponing the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. At the moment, our country is still strictly following the package leaflet that says that there must be exactly 21 days between both doses. As a result, many useful vaccines in Belgium are kept in freezers so that people can receive their second dose at the right time.
Increasing that period between the two doses to 42 days is a bit too far for the Superior Health Council. “Preferably, the second shot is still as close to 21 days as possible. If necessary, this can be increased to 35 days, if the epidemiological situation calls for the first doses to be accelerated, ”says vaccinologist Pierre Van Damme, who is a member of the Superior Health Council, to VRT NWS.
Two doses remain the advice
The Superior Health Council continues to advise sticking to the two doses per person. However, a country like Israel chose, for example, to give as many people as possible one dose first. The figures there show that this was not a bad tactic in the short term.
“Based on the current situation, we can say that there is no scientific evidence to support this,” says Van Damme.
And now: political consultation
After the clear and hopeful answers from the Superior Health Council, it is now up to politics. The opinion of the Superior Health Council is still only an advice.
That is why the various competent ministers of our country will meet on Wednesday to discuss how they can concretely adjust the vaccination strategy in our country with this advice.
Normally, that Interministerial Conference (IMC) Health would have started at 8 am this morning, but because the working groups still had to meet, the summit has been postponed until 4 pm. That reports De Morgen.