Belgium’s Covid-19 measures won’t change when vaccines arrive

Belgium’s measures against the spread of the coronavirus will not immediately change when the Covid-19 vaccines are in the country, health officials said during a press conference on Friday.

“We still have a great deal to learn about what the vaccine will or will not be able to achieve,” said virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

Vaccinated people may still be carrying the virus for a short period of time without realising it, and pass it on to someone who has not yet been vaccinated. “That is a big risk,” he said.

The general measures, as well as those for testing and quarantining, will not be changed immediately when the first people have been vaccinated, according to Van Gucht.

“In those first few months of the vaccination campaign, general vaccination coverage in the population will be too low to adjust the measures,” he said. “For herd immunity, at least 70% of people need to be vaccinated and immune, and we are still a very long way from that.”

“Additionally, we know from clinical studies that the vaccine can clearly protect against disease, and that protection can be higher than 90%,” Van Gucht said. “However, just because you are protected against the disease, does not mean that you cannot be a carrier of the virus, even if you have been vaccinated.”

There is not enough information or data available yet to know for how long the vaccine’s protection will last either, he said. “These are things that we need to monitor on the ground.”

Once more people have been vaccinated, however, it will become easier to keep the virus under control, according to Van Gucht.

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“Fewer people will become ill, fewer people will have to be tested, fewer people will have to be quarantined,” he said. “It will be simpler.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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