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The Dutch authorities’s vaccine technique has been flawed, Prime Minister Mark Rutte mentioned Tuesday as he admitted watching on with frustration as different international locations’ residents got a jab towards the coronavirus.
“As a result of the federal government’s method was not agile sufficient, vaccination will begin later than in different European international locations,” Rutte mentioned throughout a debate in parliament.
The Netherlands will solely vaccinate its first citizen, a care house nurse, on Wednesday — making it one of many final international locations within the EU to start giving coronavirus vaccines.
Rutte mentioned the Netherlands had assumed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which doesn’t require storage at extraordinarily low temperatures, can be the primary to get EU approval and that the vaccination program might have been rolled out by way of household medical doctors.
Nonetheless, the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine was the primary to be authorised by the European Medicines Company (EMA), on December 21, and it’s harder to make use of in small-scale vaccination centres as a result of it should be saved in dry ice. It may be saved in a traditional fridge for simply 5 days.
Rutte added that the Dutch rollout marketing campaign was additional sophisticated as a result of approval of the vaccine occurred before deliberate.
“Trying again, it might have been higher if I had requested the GGD [Dutch health authority] myself to begin earlier with organising massive, central vaccination factors,” Rutte mentioned. “We weren’t in a position to get the GGD spots up and operating quick sufficient.”
Lawmakers lamented the gradual rollout, slamming it as “chaotic” and “complicated.”
Far-right politician Geert Wilders, the chief of the largest opposition social gathering, referred to as on Well being Minister Hugo de Jonge to resign. “You aren’t the fitting man in the fitting spot,” he mentioned.
“We misplaced precious weeks, and that’s unacceptable,” mentioned GreenLeft chief Jesse Klaver. He requested Rutte to nominate a particular minister for testing coverage to make sure de Jonge might deal with different components of his job — a suggestion the prime minister later rejected.
The European Fee has warned international locations since October that they need to put together for various rollout situations by way of storage and infrastructure.
Nonetheless, the Dutch lagged behind in planning. One of many fundamental delays was the upgrading of an IT system to permit the GGD to trace appointments in addition to which vaccine was used on completely different sufferers. The GGD additionally wanted to determine no less than one mass vaccination level in every of its 25 areas.
De Jonge mentioned Monday that it could have been potential to begin vaccinating folks “just a few days earlier” if he had requested the GGD to start scaling up preparations at an earlier date.
The minister mentioned he hoped that the vaccination program can be accomplished by the third quarter of 2021, though a lot is dependent upon deliveries, he mentioned. “That determines the velocity at which you’ll vaccinate, in each the Netherlands and the remainder of Europe,” he mentioned in a letter to parliament on Monday.
The variety of optimistic assessments and hospitalizations within the Netherlands continues to be excessive, regardless of a tough lockdown that began on December 15. The general public well being company RIVM mentioned on Tuesday that 56,440 folks examined optimistic for COVID-19 prior to now week.
In the meanwhile solely the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine has been authorised to be used within the EU. The EMA might subject its ruling on a vaccine candidate from Moderna on Wednesday, and is anticipated to obtain extra data from a rolling assessment of the Oxford/AstraZeneca candidate this month.
Jillian Deutsch contributed reporting.