Gov't to speed up vaccination by keeping even less stock: report
The cabinet wants to accelerate the vaccination against the coronavirus by keeping even less stock, sources told broadcaster NOS. Exactly how this will be arranged differs per vaccine, but the intention is to keep little to no stock on hand for second doses, the broadcaster reported.
For the Pfizer vaccine, the government is abandoning the strategy of keeping one second dose in stock for every two first doses administered. The policy will change to only holding stocks for a few days, with the expectation that they will be replenished in time to administer the second dose.
The recommended period between Pfizer doses is three weeks, but Health Minister Hugo de Jonge already pushed that to six weeks, in order to vaccinate more people more quickly. That was a controversial announcement, as the European Medicines Agency last week again urgently recommended keeping to the three weeks timeline. De Jonge asked for new advice on this from the Health Council and the Council said that six weeks was fine, insiders said to NOS.
For the AstraZeneca vaccine, the plan is to keep hardly any stocks. This vaccine requires 10 to 12 weeks between the two doses, and the Health Ministry believes that stock can be replenished in that time. NOS' sources said that the cabinet hopes to start administering AstraZeneca vaccines next week or the week after, depending on delivery by the pharmaceutical. Once the vaccines are delivered, it will take three more days to check the quality before vaccination can start.
On Thursday, the Health Council will advise De Jonge on which population groups can best be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine first. This vaccine is the easiest coronavirus vaccine to handle so far, with storage requirements being less intense than for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
With regard to the Moderna vaccine, the number of doses the Netherlands is currently getting is so low that the government sees no objection to using doses intended for first injections as a second injection - if there are too few doses available, first appointments will be canceled so that people can get second doses in time.
The Netherlands ordered 8 million extra doses of the Moderna vaccine, expected to be delivered in the third quarter, the Ministry of Public Health announced on Wednesday. Until now, the cabinet has not accepted an offer from the manufacturer, because the vaccines could only be delivered at the end of the year. Now that this has been moved up to the third quarter, the government decided to accept the offer and order the extra doses.
In total the Netherlands is expected to get 84.5 million vaccines from eight different pharmaceuticals up to and including the first quarter of 2022.