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Belgium to launch new coronavirus vaccine strategy amid criticism for a slow roll-out

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Belgium to launch new coronavirus vaccine strategy amid criticism for a slow roll-out
Copyright  Valentin Bianchi/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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The Belgian government says it is updating its COVID 19 vaccination roll-out plan which has been widely criticized for being slow.

Following mounting pressure the Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo says the country's Coronavirus taskforce is putting together a new vaccination strategy to move more quickly.

After an initial one week pilot program in late December, it's taken until January the 5th to launch fully.

Vaccinologists here warn that safety must be the priority.

Professor Corinne Vandermeulen, a professor at the KU Leuven Vaccinology Department says, "we're doing the best we can. And of course there can be critics and I know that people criticize the fact that we choose to vaccinate the people in the long term care facilities first and that we might have started with healthcare workers maybe first instead of the elderly. But the elderly, they are the most vulnerable."

By the start of this week, only 700 of the over 10 thousand vaccine doses delivered to Belgium by an EU scheme on December 28th had been put into people's arms.

The only jab approved in the EU so far is the one from Pfizer-BioNtech.

COVID infection and death rates are steadily decreasing in Belgium, but people here are keen for a fast vaccine rollout.

People on the streets of Brussels want it to be rolled out quickly. Adil told Euronews, "The fact that we have to wait almost a year to get it is probably the fact that's giving us a break from having some kind of euphoria. "

And 28 year old Laura who lives in the Belgian capital says, "I'm hoping that, once the vaccine is going to be rolled out to the biggest portion of the population, it's going to be...you say golden ticket to emphasis its going to be our saviour, but I really do believe that."

Belgium's government promises to now move at maximum speed to get the vaccine delivered as soon as possible.