The Estonian government says it is open to purchasing coronavirus vaccines from two more companies, in addition to procuring further supplies from Pfizer/BioNTech.
A cabinet meeting Tuesday saw support for health minister Tanel Kiik's (Center) proposal to buy vaccine doses from Novavax and Valneva, two companies which as yet have not supplied vaccines to Estonia. The European Commission, whose coronavirus vaccine procurement program Estonia has joined, is conducting talks with both companies.
Estonia has also placed vaccine orders with Moderna and AstraZeneca, which, along with Pfizer, have received European Commission approval so far.
The move is aimed at alleviating delivery shortages Estonia has been finding since coronavirus vaccines first started at Christmastime.
Kiik said: "In the first five weeks, we carried out more than 40,000 vaccinations in Estonia for approximately 30,000 people. The expectation to move forward faster with vaccination is high, but it has been limited by the quantities of vaccines that have arrived in Estonia and the uncertainty about future deliveries."
"According to the manufacturers, the reduced deliveries are mainly due to production and delivery failures, against which we will not be protected in the coming months either. To mitigate this risk, it is still prudent to rely on a number of different vaccine manufacturers so that safe and effective vaccines reach the Estonian population as soon as possible," Kiik continued.
Novavax over 290,000 doses ordered, Valneva nearly 90,000
A pre-purchase agreement with U.S. firm Novavax is to provide Estonia sees a pro rata quantity of 293,084 doses of its vaccine, for 146,542 people, reflecting the fact that full vaccination requires two doses.
The corresponding figures for Valneva, a French company, are 88,000 doses of vaccine for 44,000 people.
An additional 100,000 doses from a new contract being negotiated with Pfizer/BioNTech would also allow 50,000 more people to be vaccinated, BNS reports.
As of the time of writing, 28,907 people in Estonia have been vaccinated against COVID-19, 11,310 of them having received their second dose. Estonia has prioritized front-line health workers in its initial stages of vaccination.
The European Commission has since started negotiating an additional agreement with the vaccine manufacturer, which Estonia requested 250,000 doses from and which has led to the further 100,000 doses announced today.
Estonia has also joined agreements for supplies from Janssen Pharmaceutica and CureVac, BNS reports. Both of these companies are also subject to European Commission development work.
If all the requested vaccines are totaled, it would come to 4,558,810 doses, BNS reports, meaning half that number (2,429,405) people would be vaccinated. Estonia's population stands at around 1.3 million.
Editor: Andrew Whyte