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Estonia is preparing to start COVID-19 vaccination in January

„Both public authorities and the healthcare system are preparing to be ready for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the begging of next year, so we can start vaccinating as soon as possible," Minister Tanel Kiik said.

At today's meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik introduced the pre-purchase agreement of COVID-19 vaccine between the European Commission and the pharmaceutical company Moderna. It is one of seven pre-purchase agreements for the European Union's vaccine portfolio that the government decided to join last week. State authorities and the health care system are preparing to start vaccination as soon as the vaccines arrive in Estonia. The first vaccines may receive an EU marketing authorization by the end of the year, and the first deliveries arrive in Estonia in January.

Last week, the members of the government gave their approval to joining all seven pre-purchase agreements with vaccine manufacturers in the joint procurement process of the European Union. "The government received an overview of the COVID-19 pre-purchase agreement between the European Commission and pharmaceutical company Moderna. The common vaccine portfolio of the European Union helps to mitigate the risks in case the development, launch or production of a vaccine should be delayed and ensure that vaccination can start in Estonia at the same time as in other European Union countries, "said Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik. "Both public authorities and the healthcare system are preparing to be ready for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the begging of next year, so we can start vaccinating as soon as possible."

Estonia has now signed agreements with pharmaceutical manufacturers AstraZeneca, Jannsen Pharmaceutica NV, Pfizer / BioNTech, Curevac and Moderna. In the joint procurement of the European Union, the European Commission has also entered into an agreement with the vaccine manufacturer Sanofi, which Estonia can join later. Negotiations are also ongoing with the vaccine manufacturer Novavax. With the AstraZeneca contract, Estonia purchases COVID-19 vaccine for approx. 600,000 people, Jannsen Pharmaceutica NV for approx. 300,000 people, with the Pfizer / BioNTech contract for approx. 300,000 people, with the Curevac contract for approx. 330,000 people, with the Moderna contract for approx. 117 000 people.

According to the agreements, the vaccines will be delivered to the Member States after the vaccine has been granted a marketing authorization in the European Union. Estonia has an agreement with vaccine manufacturers that vaccines will be delivered to the Health Board, which will ensure the necessary conditions for storing vaccines (incl. particularly low temperatures and compliance with cold chain requirements). Estonia organizes the domestic distribution of vaccines to vaccination points in accordance with the vaccine distribution plan being prepared. Transport shall be ensured in such a way that it is not necessary to create special storage conditions at the vaccination points. Even the most pretentious vaccines can be stored for five days under normal conditions.

"Vaccines will gradually arrive in Estonia over several quarters. Already in the beginning of the summer, we mapped the risk groups for whom we want to enable vaccination as a matter of priority, "said Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik. "These are, first and foremost, health and care workers, people working in healthcare institutions, residents of care institutions, the elderly and people with certain chronic diseases, providers of vital services. There are slightly more than 300,000 people in the COVID-19 risk group in Estonia. After that, it is planned to make vaccination available to all Estonian residents who wish to vaccinate. ”

The necessary conditions for the storage of vaccines are provided by the Health Board. Preparations for the storage and transport of vaccines to vaccination points and for the organization of vaccination (including training of vaccinators) are ongoing. "In order to organize vaccination, we will primarily use the systems used also today - hospitals, nursing homes, family doctor centers," added Minister Kiik.

Pfizer and BioNTech have applied to the European Medicines Agency for a conditional marketing authorization for COVID-19 BNT162b2. If the data provided provide clear and substantial evidence of the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency will evaluate the vaccine at an extraordinary meeting scheduled for 29 December. However, this deadline may change during the data evaluation and will be notified by the European Medicines Agency.

Moderna Biotech Spain has applied to the European Medicines Agency for a conditional marketing authorization for Moderna COVID-19 (mRNA1273). If the data provided provide unequivocal and fundamental evidence of the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine, the Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use will evaluate the vaccine at an extraordinary meeting scheduled for 12 January. However, this deadline may change during the data evaluation and will be notified by the European Medicines Agency.

The main objectives of procuring the COVID-19 vaccine and enabling the Estonian population to be vaccinated are to protect the most vulnerable groups of people, ie groups at risk, who are more likely to be infected or for whom the disease may be particularly dangerous; to protect workers in vital services in order to ensure the normal functioning of society; to reduce and prevent deaths caused by COVID-19 and to provide the opportunity to vaccinate also those Estonian residents who do not belong to the vaccination target group, but who want to be vaccinated.

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