Estonia is canceling plans to purchase 10,000 doses of the Valneva COVID-19 vaccine placed via an EU advance purchase agreement last year, the Ministry of Social Affairs said Friday.
The ministry's COVID-19 working group proposed to Minister of Health and Labor Peep Peterson (SDE) to cancel the Valneva vaccine order, according to a press release.
"Estonia's vaccine needs for the upcoming season are covered by contracts with Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, and the quantities [of vaccine doses] available under contract rather even exceed Estonia's needs right now," Peterson said.
Last November, the EU concluded an advance purchase agreement (APA) with vaccine producer Valneva for the purchase of an inactivated virus-based COVID-19 vaccine on condition that the vaccine be authorized for sale in the EU no later than April 30. Last June, the Estonian government had approved a proposal by then-health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) to join the APA for an initial 10,000 doses and an option for more later.
As the Valneva was not recommended for authorization by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) until June 23 and subsequently authorized for sale in the EU until June 24 — nearly two months after the contractual deadline — several member states have decided to cancel their orders.
On May 16, the company announced it had received a notice from the European Commission of the latter's intent to terminate the APA, and added that it would work with the Commission and participating member states to still make their COVID vaccine available to those countries still interested in it.
The Commission has since initiated an amendment to the APA that would allow participating countries to either stick with their original order amounts, reduce them or cancel them altogether. Thus far, most countries intend to cancel their ordered doses; only Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland and Germany intend to move forward with their Valneva purchases.
Vaccination continuing with Pfizer, Moderna
To date, Estonia has purchased COVID vaccines from five different producers. Most common in Europe and Estonia alike are the mRNA-based COVID vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax); the protein-based Novavax vaccine is currently available in Estonia as well.
A previously administered vector-based vaccine produced by AstraZeneca is no longer in use.
Vaccination against the COVID-19 virus, including first, second and booster doses will continue in Estonia using the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax vaccines.
Editor: Aili Vahtla