TALLINN - Estonia will join the pre-purchase agreement (PPA) to be concluded with the vaccine manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceutica NV for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccine and apply for a vaccine for 300,000 people.
The amount enables to cover the vaccine needs of coronavirus risk groups, the costs of purchasing the vaccine are covered by the government in cooperation with the Health Insurance Fund, the Ministry of Social Affairs said.
"In order to mitigate risks, it is reasonable for us to join the pre-purchase agreements of several different vaccine manufacturers so that safe and effective vaccines reach the Estonian population as soon as possible. Therefore, in addition to the agreement with AstraZeneca, we have decided to join the agreement to be concluded with the pharmaceutical company Janssen Pharmaceutica NV," Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik said. "If both vaccines reach the market and Estonia, we can provide vaccination to approximately 70 percent of the Estonian population."
The European Commission has so far signed pre-purchase agreements with the pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Sanofi-GSK. All EU countries, including Estonia, joined the AstraZeneca agreement. In addition, the European Commission is at various stages with negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies BioNTech / Pfizer, Curevac, Moderna and Novavax to purchase a COVID-19 vaccine. In order to mitigate risks, the Commission is aiming for pre-purchase agreements to cover vaccines developed using different technologies and by a number of vaccine manufacturers.
"We want to ensure the possibility of vaccination for at least 50 percent of the Estonian population, starting primarily with vaccination of risk groups. In the long run, the vaccine could be made available free of charge to anyone who wants it," Kiik said. "Although vaccines are being developed and brought to the market under an accelerated procedure, their quality and safety are, of course, paramount. To this end, there are strict requirements in place in the European Union that COVID-19 vaccines must meet and the processes that must be completed before the vaccine can be brought to the market."
AstraZeneca and BioNTech/Pfizer have promised to launch the vaccine by the end of 2020, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (Johnson & Johnson), Curevac, Moderna and Novavax in the first half of 2021. Sanofi has promised to bring a vaccine to market by the end of 2021.
Most contracts concluded with vaccine manufacturers include an obligation for member states to purchase vaccines. Prior to concluding contracts with a purchase obligation, the state may cancel the contract within five working days of receiving the notification.
In the case of the contract to be concluded with the pharmaceutical company Jannsen Pharmaceutica NV, this would mean an obligation for Estonia to purchase 600,000 vaccine treatment doses. In reality, the aim is to find an agreement between the countries that everyone gets the desired amount. If all vaccine candidates covered by PPAs reach the market, this could mean a surplus that countries can resell or donate.
It is not possible to disclose the price of vaccines and the cost of contracts as negotiations with some vaccine manufacturers are still ongoing. Estonia will only be obliged to pay when the vaccine has been brought to the market and delivered to Estonia. Initially, producers will be paid an advance from the European Union budget.