The recent promising results of a coronavirus vaccine, developed by American and German companies Pfizer and BioNTech, has led to the Netherlands and other EU countries ordering almost 200 million doses from the companies. Questions over vaccine strategies are now arising.
The Dutch cabinet have ordered 8 million doses of this vaccine, as well as doses from other vaccines still under development. When this particular vaccine is ready for distribution in the Netherlands, it will be the responsibility of Health Minister De Jonge to decide who should receive the vaccine first.
The Health Council will be discussing this issue in the coming week, and De Jonge hopes to announce a vaccine strategy by the end of next week.
Different rules for those unvaccinated
In the meantime, De Jonge has expressed that there will likely be different measures in place for those who have been vaccinated compared to those who have not, reports Het Parool. “You should see it this way: that certain measures may apply longer for people without vaccination,” De Jonge said. “But we are really going to work all of that out, that is still to come.”
The Health Minister explained that the strategy will also depend on which vaccine is available for distribution first. Although the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine appears to be the closest to distribution, it is still unclear as to how well it protects vulnerable groups. If indeed it does effectively protect vulnerable groups, this will impact the measures implemented on all parts of society.
It is probable that healthcare workers and the elderly will be the first to receive the vaccine, says Maarten Postma, professor of Global Health Economics at the University of Groningen. “You can further specify older people: for example, people over 80 first, then people over 75, and so on,” Postma explained.
But regardless of how De Jonge chooses to distribute the vaccine, it will take a while to achieve group immunity. “To get our old life back, I estimate that 80 to 90 percent of the population should get vaccinated with a near-perfect vaccine,” Postma said. He predicts that at first only hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses will be available, and that there will be some who are not willing to take the vaccine.
Minister De Jonge predicts that it will take “months and months” to vaccinate the Dutch population in the appropriate order. The good news is that with this new vaccine, infection rates will begin to drop and our lives can begin to return to the “normality” of pre-corona.
How do you think the vaccine should be distributed in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments below.