Belgium will join Sweden and Denmark, which also contribute to the international vaccination program. Relates to AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson surpluses.
This is what Development Cooperation Minister Myriamy Ketter (Forwitt) said in the morning. The Netherlands has sent half a million doses of AstraZeneca to Suriname, and Sweden is donating one million doses of AstraZeneca to the international Covax vaccination program. Global cooperation with governments and pharmaceutical companies aims to ensure that vaccines are available worldwide and within the reach of all countries. In this way, it basically wants to support developing countries. “Vaccinations are now 30 times faster in rich countries than in poor countries,” says Kitter.
Our country has already released resources for Covax. In the coming period, Belgium will donate four million vaccines to the international program. These are doses of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. “We start with 100,000 doses of AstraZenaca, then increase them as much as possible,” explains Kitir.
The demand for the use of these two vaccines in particular is driven by the ease of transfer and administration of the two vaccines. But our vaccines are not given to anyone under the age of 41. Is it justified, then, to send those vaccines in question to poor countries whose populations are often younger?
No luxury to switch
Do you know what is indecent and unethical? That we have vaccines available and we are not using them. These vaccines are approved by the European Medicines Agency. It would be unethical if we didn’t use it. According to Ketter, the situation in Belgium cannot be equated with the situation in developing countries. She says the chance of side effects is minimal, which is incomparable to the risk when people cannot get vaccinated at all. “In Belgium we have enough vaccinations, we have the luxury of being able to transform. This is not the case everywhere. Ketter remembers getting vaccinated as soon as possible around the world is beneficial to us as well.” The minister warns that as long as the virus is spreading, it may emerge. New variants, which may become resistant to existing vaccines, and she says that vaccination only in your country or in rich countries gives a “false sense of safety.”
Only 43% of the production capacity is used
Keteer previously argued for a patent waiver, and is now repeating the appeal. We are currently using only 43% of the capacity to produce vaccines. This has to go up, ‘says Ketter. Europe has only partially agreed with this so far. Only if it can be shown that patents stand in the way of increasing production, is the committee prepared to use the tools provided for in the so-called TRIPS Agreement, such as compulsory licensing and forced transfer of technology.