Estonia not planning to buy additional doses of Moderna vaccine

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First COVID-19 vaccinations in Tallinn (photo is illustrative). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) has proposed that the government should not order additional doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as they are more expensive and arrive later. Instead, he proposes to order additional doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Estonia will receive 234,000 doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine under the EU procurement deal and this week the first 1,200 doses will arrive, which is enough to vaccinate 600 people. A further, 1,000 doses are expected to arrive in January followed by 30,000 doses in the first quarter and 100,000 in the second and third quarters.

Estonia is not planning to order additional doses from Moderna, instead, an additional supply of Pfizer/BioNTech doses will be ordered if the proposals are approved.

"The additional Moderna orders would be more expensive and would arrive at the beginning of the third quarter at the earliest but maybe even in the fourth quarter," Kiik told ERR. "The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is clearly better in the sense of the price and delivery speed."

Kiik explained the government is taking three things into account when creating additional orders: trustworthiness of the vaccine, effectiveness, safety; delivery speed; and promised time of delivery and price.

"Based on those criteria, Pfizer and Moderna are equal in the sense of effectiveness, but regarding the price and delivery time, Pfizer clearly has an advantage," Kiik said.

All vaccine manufacturers have created pre-purchase agreements with special offers and the ability to order additional supplies at a higher price. According to ERR's knowledge, the additional doses offered by Moderna are 40 percent more expensive than Pfizer's.

"Moderna's supplies would arrive when we have an abundance, not a deficit," Kiik said.

Another disadvantage for Moderna's is the fact that their manufacturing is taking place in the U.S., which affects both the logistics and the security of the supply. If the doses are stuck in the U.S., there is no security they will arrive in the third quarter.

However, Pfizer is producing the vaccine in several areas around Europe, increasing the security of supply. The government has decided to order 250,000 additional doses from Pfizer.

"Tomorrow, the government will decide if the amount should be increased," Kiik said.

The EU also has agreements with AstaZeneca and CureVac for their vaccines. Estonia has entered into a pre-purchase agreement with CureVac for 659,383 doses, in addition, it is possible to order additional deliveries at almost the same amount. Estonia has ordered 1.33 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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