In the first half of 2023, approximately 728,000 spoiled COVID-19 vaccine doses were written off in Estonia, while more than 11,000 vaccinations were administered in the same period.
Estonia was initially supposed to buy 1.3 million vaccine doses from Pfizer/BioNTech this year under the original EU joint procurement contract. However, that number was significantly reduced as a result of negotiations led by the European Commission, Neeme Raidvere, communications adviser at the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, told ERR radio.
As things stand, Estonia is now obliged to buy 239,000 vaccine doses between 2023 and 2026.
However, in the first six months of this year, Estonia wrote off nearly 728,000 spoiled vaccine doses.
At the end of June, there were a total of 732,000 vaccine doses still in stock.
Nearly three-quarters of the doses that were written off were Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, as are almost two-thirds of the vaccines currently in stock.
Under the changes to the agreement, Estonia, like other EU countries, will be required to pay an additional "scaling down" fee, which will ensure a reduction in the volume of doses and, if necessary, the purchase of cheaper additional vaccines, Raidvere said.
"Under the revised agreement, the total cost for Estonia will be around €15 million. The contract will continue to ensure Estonia's access to Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, which have been modified to cope with the new virus strains, once they have reached the EU market," Raidvere explained, adding that the supplies and costs outline in the contract will be spread over the next four years.
In the first six months of 2023, more than 11,000 coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in Estonia.
According to Raidvere, that this year it has been mostly first and second booster doses, which have been administered to patients by medical staff.
"You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of cases where five or six booster doses have been administered in addition to the main course. During the winter to spring period, the focus of vaccinations against COVID-19 has been on the elderly, those over 60 years of age, as well as people in high risk categories. The Estonian Immunoprophylaxis Expert Committee recommends the third booster shot, particularly for those aged 80 years and above, as well as for all people aged 18-79 years, who are at risk," said Raidvere.
People at risk include those who are immunocompromised as well as people, who have previously had an organ or bone marrow transplant.
Editor: Michael Cole