Regardless of pharmaceutical developer Pfizer/BioNTech's inability to meet the contractually agreed delivery capacities for the company's coronavirus vaccine so far, Estonia has purchased additional vials from the developer with another shipment of more than 10,000 doses set to arrive in Estonia next week.
Estonia, along with many other European Union countries, procured additional coronavirus vaccine doses from developers Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. While the effectiveness and trustworthiness of the product is the same, Estonia has decided to go to Pfizer for additional doses, even though the company has so far not met its end of the base contract made with the EU.
"If we are looking at the speed and prize of delivery, then Pfizer/BioNTech is the more secure choice and for this reason, Estonia will go forward with Pfizer/BioNTecg and we will not order additional doses from Moderna on the conditions offered to us," said Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center).
According to Kiik, Pfizer is the only company capable of producing enough vaccines for Europe. Moderna's vaccines are produced in the United States and the additional doses will arrive in Estonia in the second half of 2021. The social minister said that the fact that part of Pfizer's production is located in Europe, speaks in favor of the company.
"Today, we are discussing with three different locations where vaccines could be developed in the coming months based on an optimistic schedule and that gives them the ability to increase production capacities, capacities delivered to Estonia," Kiik added.
Pfizer/BioNTech has still not presented Estonia with exact delivery schedules. The company's spokesperson in Estonia, Anneli Taal, told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" that a shipment of 2,730 vials is set to arrive in Estonia next Monday, close to 4,000 doses more than the previous shipment. According to the Estonian Agency of Medicines and worldwide procedures, one vial allows for five to six doses, depending on the syringe.
While Estonia has received the number of vaccines in accordance to the base contract, the country missed out on supposed vaccines at the end of 2020. "Today, Pfizer's capacities in the first quarter were about 80 percent of those that countries wished for but Pfizer is working on increasing capacities, with help from the EU. They are developing a new factory in Germany and new production lines," said Keit Kasemets, head of the European Commission's Representation in Estonia.
The EU is planning on acquiring 75 million additional vaccine doses with a handover in the spring months.
While Estonia hopes to receive the vaccines provided in the EU's joint procurement, Germany has already announced it will procure another 30 million doses. Kasemets said Estonians have no reason to worry that Germany's additional contract would leave Estonia without vaccines.
"At the moment, it is agreed that Germany's additional purchase will be filled after the EU's ordered doses are delivered," the European Commission spokesperson in Estonia confirmed.
As of the EU's base contract with Pfizer/BioNTech, the company has to deliver 600,000 doses of the vaccine to Estonia by September's end. Estonia wants to acquire another 250,000 doses, the government will set the final number on Tuesday.
Kiik said Estonia will not just hope on one developer however, but the Pfizer vaccine will be used to vaccinate health care workers, care home residents and risk groups.
"All vaccine developers to enter the market, whether it is AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica or Curevac, give us the opportunity to go forward with vaccinating a wider base of the population," the social minister said.
AstraZeneca and Janssen Pharmaceutica should receive a sales permit from the European Medicines Agency in January-February.
As of the base contract, Estonia will receive 30,000 vaccine doses from Moderna with another 100,000 doses set to arrive in the second and third quarter of 2021. As of Monday, 10,972 people in Estonia have received the first vaccine injection.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste