Estonia takes delivery of first batch of AstraZeneca vaccine

AstraZeneca lab.
AstraZeneca lab. Source: AstraZeneca

The Health Board received the first shipment of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine on Sunday.

"AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine arriving in Estonia will make it possible to vaccinate more people. The first shipment will allow family medicine centers to start inoculation of risk-group patients under the age of 70 and the immunization of front-line workers most at risk in the fields of social security, education and internal security," Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik said via the social ministry's press service.

The minister added that the exact organization of front-line staff immunization will be laid down next week.

The Ministry of Social Affairs said that Estonia should take delivery of some 40,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in February. Estonia has vaccinated 35,906 people of whom 17,519 have been given both doses. Vaccinations total 53,424.

Estonia has reserved 1,330,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, enough to vaccinate 665,000 people in the EU pre-purchase agreement that it joined in August 2020. Deliveries should amount to 75,000 doses in February and the first half of March.

The government's immunoprophylaxis expert work group recommended setting an age limit for the AstraZeneca vaccine since the proportion of older people during the critical trials was too low to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine. Estonia will use the vaccine to inoculate people under the age of 70. The second doze of the vaccine is to be administered eight weeks after the initial dose.

The most common side-effects with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca were usually mild or moderate and got better within a few days after vaccination during clinical trials. The most common side-effects are pain and tenderness at the injection site, headache, tiredness, muscle pain, general feeling of being unwell, chills, fever, joint pain and nausea.

COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca works by preparing the body to defend itself against infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This virus uses proteins on its outer surface, called spike proteins, to enter the body's cells and cause disease.

COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is made up of another virus (of the adenovirus family) that has been modified to contain the gene for making the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The adenovirus itself cannot reproduce and does not cause disease. Once it has been given, the vaccine delivers the SARS-CoV-2 gene into cells in the body. The cells will use the gene to produce the spike protein. The person's immune system will treat this spike protein as foreign and produce natural defenses − antibodies and T cells − against this protein.

The European Union's joint vaccine portfolio includes vaccines from eight manufacturers (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV and CureVac, Sanofi, Novavax, Valneva). Estonia has so far joined the pre-purchase contracts of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV and CureVac vaccines and decided to join the Novavax and Valneva agreements. Estonia can procure 4,558,810 doses of vaccines for 2,429,405 people.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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