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Baltic health ministers want COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to be moved forward in emergencies

COVID-19 vaktsiinid

The ministers of health of the Baltic States – Tanel Kiik, Arūnas Dulkys, and Daniels Pavļuts – have submitted a joint appeal to the European Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides for the creation of a transparent mechanism which would allow deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to be moved forward for specific countries in emergencies. 

‘Our proposal is to establish clear and transparent criteria for the fast redistribution of vaccine supplies in emergencies, which would be based on the availability of vaccines, vaccination coverage, infection rates, mortality, and the spread of new virus strains in the Member State concerned,’ explained Estonia’s Minister of Health and Labour Tanel Kiik. ‘The proposal also includes the possibility to adjust the quantities of vaccines to be supplied in the event of a larger stockpile of vaccines in some countries, in particular in situations where there is a risk of expiry of the vaccines.’ 

Under the European Union’s joint procurement scheme, the distribution of vaccine quantities is based on a pro rata of population of each Member State. Unless the countries participating in the relevant joint agreement of the EU agree on a different manner of distribution after the conclusion of the pre-purchase agreement, the vaccine doses are distributed in proportion to the population of the participating countries. On a pro rata basis, Estonia’s share is 0.3% of the total quantity to be delivered under the agreement. 

According to Minister Tanel Kiik, Estonia highly appreciates the contribution of the European Commission in negotiating with manufacturers and concluding joint pre-purchase agreements for the EU, as well as the efforts made to increase vaccine manufacturing capacities in Europe. ‘Under the proposal of the Baltic States, the distribution of vaccines would still proceed on a pro rata basis over the longer term, but it allows for adjustment of delivery schedules in order to aid Member States in emergencies,’ Kiik added.

The proposal of the Baltic ministers of health will be discussed by the European Union’s Steering Committee for the Joint Procurement of COVID-19 Vaccines, which is composed of representatives of the Member States.

The European Union’s vaccine portfolio currently includes vaccines from eight manufacturers (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, CureVac, Sanofi, Novavax, and Valneva). To date, Estonia has joined five pre-purchase agreements from the EU’s COVID-19 vaccine joint procurement scheme: for vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, and CureVac. With the recent addition of the Valneva vaccine to the EU’s common vaccine portfolio, Estonia will be able to purchase a total of 5,229,362 doses of vaccine, which is enough for 2,764,681 people.

The objectives of the COVID-19 vaccination efforts are to protect at-risk groups of the population, who have a higher risk of becoming infected or developing severe illness from COVID-19; to prevent and reduce COVID-19-related illnesses and deaths; to reduce the burden on the health care system and the economy; and to ensure the normal functioning of society.

For official information about COVID-19 vaccination in Estonia, visit the website www.vaktsineeri.ee/covid19. 

See also the joint appeal of the Baltic ministers of health (PDF).

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