Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke announced that around six million vaccine doses will be destroyed as soon as possible. This comes more than three years after the Covid-19 pandemic put the entire country in lockdown.
The days of queuing endlessly for a dose may seem far behind, but the Belgian government still has millions of doses (around 15 million according to Sudinfo) stored in the federal reserve.
An initial reaction to the destruction of some of this stock may be that the government is acknowledging the pandemic is over. There is no need for such a huge inventory given the lowered impact covid currently has on our daily lives.
But the turning point of this decision seems to be based on creating better defenses against potential new waves. The minister talked about the familiar Moderna and Pfizer shots being outdated. These were then said to be replaced by the more modern BA4/5 vaccine.
A further justification raised was that new doses would require storage space, currently being taken up by the vaccines of the past. Vandenbroucke emphasized the redundancy of using up space with vaccines no longer useful in Belgium or in other countries.
So, while destroying six million doses could represent a government finally moving on, it seems Vandenbroucke has taken the prudent route. Given the slow responses some governments had in response to covid, it is hardly a surprise. The pandemic proved that poor pre-planning and excessive optimism could be devastating, and this replacement move shows the Belgians have likely taken notes.