The end for the AstraZeneca vaccine in the Netherlands might be in sight
The millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that the Netherlands will receive after mid-May will mostly not be used, predicts the head of vaccinations at the Dutch public health center RIVM, Jaap van Delden.
The reason is that so many corona vaccines will be supplied in the near future that those from AstraZeneca will soon no longer be needed.
Complications and registrations
The vaccine is less popular because of the reports of a possible side effect of thrombosis. In some places, many people from the target group of 60 to 64-year-olds did not get their injection.
"Until now, 60-64 year-olds cannot receive another vaccine. This may change later this year," says Van Delden in newspaper AD. "It may soon be the case that we will focus on one specific group again in order to increase the vaccination coverage. We could hold cattle rounds in those groups, during which we visit everyone who has not been vaccinated again."
Van Delden admits to the newspaper that the government does not know exactly how many injections have been performed so far, because the registration of the vaccination at GPs and in healthcare institutions is lagging behind considerably.
Millions of vaccines unused
The Netherlands has ordered 11.7 million doses of AstraZeneca. An estimated 1.5 million of these have been administered. The largest bulk is scheduled to be delivered after mid-May, meaning that millions of vaccines will not be used. They are likely to be distributed among poorer countries. Part of it may be preserved, says Van Delden.
People under 60 who are eagerly waiting for a vaccine cannot, however, opt for the AstraZeneca vaccine in hopes of getting a jab ahead of schedule. Van Delden explains that "we have purchased enough other vaccaines to offer to under 60s. Moreover, at AstraZeneca, you only get the second injection after twelve weeks. At Pfizer and Moderna this is six weeks, and at Janssen, only one injection is required. That also plays a role in the decision. Moreover, we don't have any doses of AstraZeneca left yet."
Vaccination readiness also appears to be higher for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines compared to the one from AstraZeneca.
The Netherlands badly prepared?
Van Delden also admits that he was not shocked that the Netherlands was apparently poorly prepared for a pandemic. "I have been involved in healthcare for some time, so I know about things like digitization and privacy legislation. But it would be good if it were different. This is going to be one of the things about the evaluation of the corona crisis."
Despite the criticism over the Dutch vaccination campaign, Van Delden does not think it would be better to let the Military take over. "Defense has been involved a long time ago, as have logistics experts and Dutch companies with a great deal of knowledge in that field. Moreover, there are a lot of people walking around here at the RIVM who have done the vaccination campaign for the Mexican flu. There seems to be the idea that RIVM started the job in splendid isolation, without much experience. Like, "Gosh, how are we going to handle this?"
He also pointed out that the rapidly changing target groups set by the government made the implementation of the campaign more difficult. "For some groups you can easily understand that they have been set apart, for others it is a bit more complicated. But ultimately, they are political decisions. We have to implement it, although, of course, we have an advisory role."
Finally, he added that the vaccination campaign was like having children: "you either go crazy or you become flexible. I have four boys at home. If you want it to run exactly the way you want it to, it gets pretty complicated. That was also the case with the vaccination."