Will the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out go as planned?

COVID-19, vaccine, RIVM
Photo credit: Fernando Zhiminaicela/Pixabay

There should be enough COVID-19 vaccines to immunise 12 million people in the Netherlands within the first half of next year.

That’s if all the COVID-19 vaccines ordered are approved. That’s according to figures the Dutch Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, recently sent to the House of Representatives. These documents clarify, for the first time, what pharmaceutical companies’ commitments are regarding supply times.

The Dutch Cabinet has ordered six different vaccines. Whether all those vaccines will be available depends on the authorisation to be issued by the European Medicines Agency. So far, only Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have applied for a licence.

Must still prove to work

AstraZeneca’s is expected to apply for approval before Christmas. It’s still unclear whether the other vaccines will be effective at all. Much will depend on the approval of the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines.

These companies have promised to be able to supply vaccines for eight million people in the Netherlands within the first six months of 2021. Several other European countries have ordered fewer Janssen and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. So, that allowed the Netherlands to purchase additional vaccines.

On Wednesday, Minister De Jonge reported a setback. The Netherlands will get 500,000 fewer Pfizer vaccines than anticipated.


And, these vaccines won’t be available until the beginning of January, instead of the end of December. But, “everything is still aimed at vaccinating as early as possible in January,” says De Jonge. The vaccination programme will not get fully underway until February at the earliest.

Only 500,000 people, at best, could be vaccinated in January already. Should AstraZeneca receive a licence, the number of vaccinated people could increase rapidly in February. The first vaccines will be delivered to care workers. The Dutch government thinks that at least 75% of them would be willing to be vaccinated.

And, on Friday, the news broke that pharmaceutical companies, Sanofi and GSK, report that the efficacy of their joint COVID-19 vaccine is disappointing. The Netherlands has an option on almost 12 million doses of this vaccine. This means that just under 6 million people could have been vaccinated.

Less effective

Now, it’s been shown that this vaccine is less effective in older people. People over the age of 49 who have been given the vaccine don’t produce enough antibodies. That’s according to phase 1 and 2 studies.

This slows down the development of the vaccine. It was planned that the Sanofi and GSK vaccine would be delivered in the third and fourth quarters of 2021. This delay hasn’t affected the 2021 roll-out schedule for the other vaccines. That looks like this:

  • Pfizer/BioNTech (under review): 1,1 million people (1st quarter), 1,4 million (2nd quarter), 1,7 million (3rd quarter).
  • Moderna (under review): 200,000 people (1st quarter), 700,000 people (2nd and 3rd quarters), and 1,6 million in the fourth quarter.

The following four vaccines have not yet been reviewed.

  • AstraZeneca: 2,3 million people (1st quarter), 2,6 million people (2nd quarter), and 1 million people (3rd quarter).
  • Curevac: 300,000 (1st quarter), 800,000 (2nd quarter), 1 million (3rd quarter), 1,1 million (4th quarter).
  • Janssen: 3 million (2nd quarter), 6 million (3rd quarter), 2,3 million (4th quarter).
  • Sanofi and GSK: 2,9 million (3rd and 4th quarter).

The Dutch government will soon launch a campaign to dispel vaccination doubts.

Source: NOS

Translator: Melinda Walraven

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