Estonia to donate 400,000 unused AstraZeneca vaccine doses to other states

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AstraZeneca vaccine. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Around 400,000 unused AstraZeneca anti-coronavirus vaccine doses in Estonia are to be donated to other countries outside the European Union.

Social affairs ministry spokesperson Eva Lehtla said: "Since Europe is one of the few regions in the world where the availability of COVID-19 vaccines is guaranteed by agreements that cover the needs of the people of Europe, in the near future, many times over, discussions have also been held at EU level, concerning vaccine donation."

Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) denied that the move would be a case of passing on the much-criticized product, now no longer being used in the EU, to less fortunate countries. 

Kiik said: "In respect of the AstraZeneca product, it is a good vaccine, one which has been used by the majority of government members." 

Kiik noted the minimum age for AstraZeneca recipients is currently 50, at a time when 60 percent of those aged 50 or above in Estonia have received a vaccine. 

Some of the AstraZeneca doses, which were ordered in large quantities, will be kept in stock, Kiik added.

By the third or fourth quarters this year, coronavirus vaccine stocks would run at around a million doses. 

The donated vaccines, in conjunction with the the EU, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) COVAX purchase right agreement, will likely sent out in the second half of this year, it is reported.

In addition, Estonian will not be purchasing any more Janssen doses, manufactured by Johnson&Johnson, of which 20,000 have arrived from a total order of 300,000, since holding such a surplus would not be rational, Kiik said.

"Every vaccine has a shelf life and a period of use. In a situation where there are countries in the world where there is a critical situation regarding vaccines, there is no point warehouse in Estonia with vaccines," Kiik said.

Many EU member states will be handing over the Janssen supplementary agreement to other countries as well, Kiik said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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