Belgium warns against buying COVID-19 vaccines “off streets, in stores or online”

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BRUSSELS, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — Belgium’s national crisis center on Tuesday warned people not to purchase COVID-19 vaccines “off the streets, in stores or online” because their effectiveness and safety hasn’t been approved by the authorities.

“The only safe and effective vaccines are free and are given in vaccination centers, hospitals, or nursing and care homes,” Sabine Stordeur, project manager of the vaccination task force, told a press conference.

Her comments came as the vaccination campaign in Belgium is gaining momentum, with Brussels launching one of the largest vaccination centers in Belgium on Tuesday.

To date, more than 370,000 people have received their first dose of the vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna, and more than 200,000 have been fully vaccinated, Stordeur said.

Belgium plans to vaccinate 70 percent of its population before life starts returning to normal. A communication and awareness campaign on the importance of vaccination has been carried out for several weeks across the country.

All epidemiological indicators of COVID-19 are on the decline. Public health institute Sciensano reported Tuesday that from Feb. 6 to Feb. 12, an average of 1,809 new cases per day had been registered. This represents a 20-percent decrease compared to the previous week.

In the week of Feb. 9-15, an average of 120.7 new admissions per day was reported by Sciensano, a decrease of roughly 3 percent.

“This decrease comes from nursing and care homes, which is probably due to the impact of the vaccinations,” said Vyes Van Laethem, inter-federal spokesperson for the fight against the coronavirus, on Tuesday.

Belgium has so far recorded a total of 739,488 coronavirus cases and 21,702 deaths since the start of the epidemic.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in many countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 242 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 63 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Feb. 9. Enditem

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