Before July, every adult Dutch person – who wants to – could have had one injection and two-thirds also a second injection, Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health, CDA) calculated on Tuesday. On 1. In total, that would amount to about 18 million injections. Previously, De Jonge had planned for the fall, but “Pfizer now delivers quite reliably,” he said in the TV program. He now thinks that it is possible to finish earlier. Is that feasible?
“The calculation is roughly correct,” says Professor of Logistics Jan Fransoo (Tilburg University), who advises RIVM in an independent group of experts. But then there should be no setbacks. “Vaccination requires three things: a vaccine, a needle stick and an upper arm.” If the deliveries of vaccines are disappointing, the number of injections that can be done per week is not scaled up or people do not show up, then it will not work.
Now three quarters of adult Dutch people say ‘yes’ to a vaccine. This is evident from the three-weekly RIVM survey. “That is high, in Germany the willingness to vaccinate is a problem, there it is much lower,” says Fransoo.
De Jonge calculates with a willingness to vaccinate of 80 to 85 percent. The Netherlands has about 14 million adults, 85 percent of which is about 12 million.
To poke so many people, “the expected deliveries from AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen really have to come in in the next three months,” says Fransoo. Until now, the producers did not always keep the agreements. The Ministry of Health confirms that the security of deliveries is now higher. “The Janssen vaccine still has to be approved next week, so we don’t know anything about the reliability of the deliveries.”
According to the VWS figures on expected deliveries, we received a total of more than 4 million vaccines at the end of March and 20 million at the end of June. That would be enough to inject 18 million injections, as De Jonge announced. “Then the injection speed must be increased,” says the Tilburg professor.
More than 1.3 million injections have now been taken. By the end of March this should rise to 3 million. In order to then inject 14 million doses of vaccine in three months, GGDs and general practitioners together have to administer more than one million injections per week. Now that pace is four times slower. Fransoo thinks that speeding up can be done. His team investigated this at the GGD in west Brabant. “By using smarter injections – for example by not making the toothpick wait for administrative actions – twice as many injections can be done per hour. By subsequently doubling the number of prods, you end up with a four times higher lancing capacity.
The vaccines do not come in in equal amounts. “So it is important to have a larger injection capacity ready to compensate for those differences.” De Jonge has asked the GGDs whether they can scale up to 1.5 million injections per week and the GPs to one million. A spokesperson for the umbrella organization GGD-Ghor says the GGDs are benevolent and the plans are being worked out. Next week should show what is feasible. The National General Practitioners Association (LHV) indicates the same for general practitioners.