The list of countries temporarily suspending the AstraZeneca vaccine because of potential serious side effects was further extended on Monday, with in particular Germany, France and Spain. But Belgium finally communicated at the end of the day: it is not giving up the AstraZeneca vaccine for the moment and is continuing its vaccination campaign.
Yves Van Laethem, interfederal spokesperson in the fight against the coronavirus, spoke on the subject to RTL-TVi’s 7 p.m. newscast. “The Superior Health Council gave us a very clear opinion on Monday. It thinks that the public health interest – at the time when we are just starting to vaccinate the most vulnerable people, people over 65 years old – is much higher than the potential risk. But the Health Council specifies that it will obviously be vigilant and listen to the opinions of the countries which surround us and which for the moment have stopped this vaccination, sometimes with very little published scientific data. “
Asked whether it is not more prudent to follow our neighbors, Yves Van Laethem answers: “These serious cases are currently so few in number and so little documented that the interruption of the vaccination campaign would be more harmful than anything else. But we will obviously follow what is happening and in particular the meetings of the European Agency of the drug, which has set important appointments Tuesday and Thursday. EMA experts like those of the WHO will arrive with detailed arguments and we will decide based on their opinions. “
Yves Van Laethem in any case encourages the population to continue vaccination. “In most of the countries around us, the decision was taken by the politicians, much more than by the security agencies themselves. So we are faced with a kind of political domino game in which, because of fear there is There, the political power decides to suspend the campaign. In Belgium, we decided for reasons which seem scientific to us to continue the campaign and to align themselves with the decisions which are just as scientific taken by the authorities. I hope that the population will realize in the days to come that its interest, especially among people over 75, 80, is to be really vaccinated “.
Frank Vandenbroucke talks about a race against time
Invited on the set of the 7:30 p.m. TV news of RTBF, Frank Vandenbroucke made the same remarks as Yves Van Laethem: “Of course the safety of the vaccine is important and we want to find out what is going on elsewhere and have all the data. We are waiting for the European Medicines Agency to analyze the data across Europe and we reports Thursday. In the meantime, stopping this vaccination campaign while the virus continues to spread rapidly would be irresponsible because it is a safe and effective protection against this disease. “
“I’m not saying that France or Germany make bad decisions” However, said the Federal Minister of Health, who speaks of a race against time and explains why he does not suspend the vaccine by Thursday and the decision of the European Medicines Agency. “What I am saying is that the balance that must be struck between being vaccinated and the risk of being infected is very important. It is a race against time because there is a real increase in contamination and an increase in hospitalizations in recent days, so it’s pretty dramatic. So this is not a political debate but health. It’s a race against time. ”
Should we expect the population to refuse to go to the vaccination centers in the coming days? Frank Vandenbroucke does not want to believe it. “Tomorrow thousands of people will get vaccinated. All the vaccines we have are safe and excellent. We have taken steps to ensure their safety. And so far, we have no doubts. The most choice. unwise, it is not to be vaccinated. The catastrophe is a third wave. And it is only with the vaccine that we will defeat this virus. “
The vaccination task force confirms
The group in charge of vaccination in Belgium will follow the decision of the interministerial public health conference, which is based on the opinion on the matter from the Higher Health Council issued earlier in the afternoon on Monday. The vaccination task force confirmed this decision in the evening, repeating that the AstraZeneca vaccine has already been administered massively throughout the world, and the rate of thrombosis in those vaccinated is lower than in the general population. The AZ vaccine is “good,” “safe” and “effective,” task force experts said. It reduces the risk of hospitalization for people with infection by 94%, and the public health benefits of continued vaccination “far outweigh” the disadvantages.
The task force, whose objective is to vaccinate more than 70% of the population, ensures that the safety and health of citizens is a higher priority than their participation in the campaign. Each case of thrombosis observed after administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine is recorded by the Belgian Medicines Agency (FAMHP) which, after analysis, transmits these data to the EMA. Each case is taken seriously and followed closely, insists the task force.