The Belgian authorities suffer delays from pharmaceutical companies and admit to being powerless. This is the admission of the Federal Minister of Health, Frank Vandenbroucke in front of our camera following the delays of Pfizer but also of Moderna in the deliveries of vaccines to hospitals.
Some of the nursing staff in some hospitals in the country who were to be vaccinated this Monday against Covid-19 will ultimately not be immediately. Some appointments have been postponed as a precaution. In question: all the doses of vaccines were not delivered. The vaccination schedule is therefore adapted. We are not talking about a “shortage” but rather a slowdown, a consequence of delays in deliveries from Pfizer but also, and this is new, a delay from the Moderna company.
The finding is not generalized in all hospitals in Belgium but some have not received sufficient doses. It’s the case in Brussels, at the CHU Saint-Pierre, at the Saint-Luc University Clinics, at the Iris Sud Hospitals and at Chirec. The schedules had to be adapted. Appointments scheduled for Monday for nursing staff have been postponed.
According to the office of Brussels Minister of Health Alain Maron, it is a decrease in supplies from Pfizer that is slowing down vaccination plans next week. “The Brussels region only received half of the doses planned by Pfizer “, confirms Cocom, the Common Community Commission of Brussels-Capital which deals with the distribution of vaccines in the capital.
Also late at Moderna
She explains that the distribution of doses between hospitals is also delayed by 5 or 6 days at Moderna. The vaccinations from the beginning of next week are therefore postponed in hospitals. “We hope that at the beginning of next week, we will have a schedule for the weeks of February 8 and 15”, says Inge Neven, Covid crisis coordinator for Cocom.
No delivery before February 15, deadline for the 2nd dose
At Chirec, for example, it was planned to vaccinate 6,000 people in one week and put the turbo in so that the staff was protected. as the 3rd wave looms. Currently, 750 workers have received the first dose of Pfizer and it is expected that 250 people will receive it next Wednesday. Then, the vaccination will stop until February 15 because the Chirec will not receive a delivery before this date. It is therefore essential that the hospital receives this delivery if it is to be able to administer the 2nd dose.
It is not very transparent and understandable
“The first vaccinated should receive the 2nd dose between February 16 and 22, deplores Philippe El Haddad, general manager at Chirec. We dare to hope to receive them in time.“And to continue on the vagueness of delivery schedules. “It is not entirely clear to everyone, what we get, when we get it, why some get more than others… we follow as best we can, with last minute changes but this is not very transparent and understandable. “
The director regrets the strategy of the pharmaceutical companies. “I do not understand this game very well and I deplore it because there are lives behind it. It will put the nursing staff in difficulty at the dawn of a third wave.”
We should have confirmation by Saturday at the latest
Cocom details: “We still work week by week, Explain Inge Neven. We’ll see if we can do something for the week of the 8th, but honestly, I don’t think so. It will be more for the week of February 15th. It depends on the deliveries. We should have confirmation on Saturday (note: January 30) at the latest. “
A reorganization of planning
For the Walloon Region, the cell dedicated to Covid-19 explains this slowdown. The first week, the vaccines went as planned. This week, only half was administered because of the announcement of delivery delays at Pfizer. As for next week, the doses are distributed alternately between the “hub” hospitals which are large vaccination centers and the non-hubs which are d.are smaller structures. Consequences: large centers will not receive all the doses planned.
In Liège province too, a slowdown is observed. At Seraing Abbey Wood Hospital Center, 250 workers were vaccinated in the emergency, intensive care, covid and geriatric departments out of a total of 1,600 people. This is the Moderna vaccine. A delivery was canceled last week but will be delivered early next week. We are therefore not talking about a shortage of stock but a small delay which pushes the hospital to reorganize other vaccination sessions. The hospital center specifies: “As soon as the next delivery is received, the vaccination can restart as soon as possible. “
At the CHC, 900 healthcare workers were vaccinated in the Covid intensive care and emergency departments. At the CHU, only 25% of front-line staff are vaccinated, or 1250 people out of the 6000 planned.
The shortage does not appear to affect all hospitals in the country. The Jolimont hospital center in Hainaut and Walloon Brabant meanwhile did not acknowledge any modification of his vaccination plan. We therefore cannot speak of a shortage but rather of a slowdown in planning.
Belgian authorities powerless in the face of these delays
“It is the rhythm of deliveries that dictates the rhythm of vaccination, reacts Frank Vandenbroucke. The problem, as we know, is that this strategy must be reviewed on an ongoing basis because there are permanent changes in the pace of delivery. It’s frustrating, it’s difficult but I believe everyone is doing what they can.“And for hospitals, that means day-to-day vaccination management.