The Netherlands has committed to donating 22 million vaccines to the international vaccination aid programme COVAX – but new information has revealed that not a single dose has been delivered to countries in need.
The Netherlands pledges to donate 27 million doses
The COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access programme – COVAX for short – was set up last spring and aims to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines around the world. Various countries, including Germany and Switzerland, have committed to donating millions of doses by the end of the year.
The Netherlands has also pledged its support for countries that are facing vaccine shortages, and at the end of September announced plans to donate a total of 27 million vaccines by the end of the year. At the time, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said COVAX played a vital role in combatting the virus: “We are only really protected when everyone is protected. Worldwide availability of vaccines is also the only way to get coronavirus under control.“
16,3 million doses already reserved for COVAX
Of these 27 million doses, 22 million would be shipped directly from the factories to COVAX. 16,3 million doses have been set aside for delivery, but RTL Nieuws reports that not a single dose provided by the Netherlands has been shipped or administered under the COVAX scheme.
Sabine de Jong, the coordinator of the Dutch division of COVAX, explained to RTL that even though millions of vaccines have been reserved for the programme, it takes between four and six weeks for the doses to be shipped. She noted that if the Netherlands had made a move to donate vaccines before the autumn, the doses could have been delivered earlier.
While this is a huge blow to the Netherlands commitment of support, it’s important to note that several million doses were shipped directly from Dutch stocks to Indonesia, Cape Verde, Tanzania, Namibia and Suriname, with more deliveries scheduled to take place over the coming weeks.
Dutch government moves forward with national vaccination campaign
De Jong is optimistic that the Netherlands will meet its target of 27 million doses, pointing out that the donations are coming in fast. Doctors Without Borders, on the other hand, is feeling less positive, calling on the government to recognise the importance of delivering vaccines as quickly as possible. “We want to see that vaccines are actually delivered and arrive at the places where they are most needed,” deputy director Judith Sargentini told RTL Nieuws.
Meanwhile, the Dutch government is moving forward with its vaccination campaign in the Netherlands. The GGD is planning to significantly increase vaccination capacity over the coming month in order to administer three million booster shots by the end of the year.
This week, the government also announced it had decided to follow the latest advice from the Health Council of the Netherlands in regards to the vaccination of vulnerable children. From December 20, children between the ages of five and 11 who are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 will be eligible to receive the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.