“I’ll make a bet with you.” It’s not often happened that a federal minister explicitly bet on TV, as you can see in the video above. But Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke (Sp.a) ventured into such a prediction on the Seventh Day. He is convinced that our country will succeed in making the distribution and vaccination with corona vaccines seamless and fast. “If that doesn’t work, shoot me.”
When the corona vaccines are ready, the logistics (storage, distribution, administration and information to the population) will be fully worked out, says the Minister of Health. He also promises that our country’s complex political structure will not delay. There will be unity of action. The regional governments are also on the same page. ‘
However, the rollout of the vaccination campaign involves a lot of work. Not least because the corona vaccines have to be stored much colder than usual. For example, Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines require temperatures of minus 70 to 80 degrees. There are too few ultra-freezers in our country to stock all the necessary vaccines. In addition, the transport of the vaccines also brings headaches.
The recently started task force ‘operationalization of the Covid-19 vaccination strategy’ – led by Professor Dirk Ramaekers, the medical director of the Jessa Hospital in Hasselt, and former ULB rector Yvon Englert – must now very quickly develop a logistical scenario. It is not yet clear where and by whom the corona vaccines will be administered. Not to mention the monitoring system that needs to be figured out to keep track of who has already been vaccinated and who needs a second dose.
On the other hand, Vandenbroucke did not dare to comment on a specific date. ‘There are still many’ ifs’. ‘We can only start once the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves the vaccines and if the pharmaceutical companies (Astra Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson en Pfizer, red.) make production bulky. ‘
Vandenbroucke does not want to introduce a vaccination obligation. ‘We are aiming for 70 percent vaccinated people in the population, and we have to achieve that by appealing to common sense and solidarity. By getting vaccinated, you help yourself and the rest of the country. When there are enough of us, the whole herd is protected. ‘
Prime Minister De Croo replied The Seventh Day that most Belgians will be able to receive a vaccine in the second and third quarter of 2021.
Too rosy picture of hospitals
Minister Vandenbroucke acknowledges that the figures are heading in the right direction, but he warns against a distorted image of the hospitals. ‘We think too rosy about that. Our hospital system is still disrupted today. The milestone of 2000 beds in intensive care has still been exceeded. After all, we also have to include the patients that we place in an intermediate category. ‘ This category was specially devised for Covid-19 patients, it concerns people who are in a better condition than the average sick person on intensive care, but who are still too weak to be cared for in a normal hospital bed. About 170 people are in that case, says Vandenbroucke. “If we add them to the Covid beds and the non-Covid intensive care patients, we are above 2000. That’s more than in the first wave.”