The government plans to allocate €1.5 million towards a €2.15 billion European Union project to procure and distribute coronavirus vaccines, once they are ready.
The coalition made its decision Thursday; the contribution will go to the European Emergency Support Instrument, which finances pre-purchase agreements (PPAs) for COVID-19 vaccines, and which in turn should ensure that the vaccine reaches its destinations.
"In order to mitigate risks, it is reasonable for us to consider joining the pre-purchase agreement with several different vaccine manufacturers, so that safe and effective vaccines reach the Estonian populace as soon as possible," social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) said Thursday.
"Vaccine candidates from the seven manufacturers covered by the European Commission's PPAs offer the necessary diversity from different technologies," he added.
The precise sum settled on at the cabinet meeting Thursday totaled €1,490,331 and make up somewhat of a deposit on the purchase of future specific vaccines. The government plans initially for guaranteed vaccination of at least half of Estonia's 1.3 million inhabitants, starting primarily with risk groups like the elderly.
The European Commission's' PPA has so far been signed with pharmaceuticals firm AstraZeneca, with further deals with BioNTech/Pfizer, Curevac, Moderna, Novavax, Johnson&Johnson and Sanofi subject to negotiation.
The range of potential suppliers is a hedge against different technologies, effectiveness etc, and the commission as a whole has set aside €2.15 billion from the Emergency Support Instrument for the purpose, €750 million of which is yet to be found.
Germany, which holds the rotating Council of the EU presidency, proposed the shortfall being made up by member states.
Tanel Kiik noted that when vaccines will be due, who they will target, who will produce them, what sort of doses and other considerations are not fully known yet, hence the continuing clinical trials.
As well as the elderly and the sick, other at-risk and hence priority groups include health workers and other front-line staff.
Editor: Andrew Whyte