Minister of Health Jan Blatný announced that Czechia is interested in purchasing 2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine made by the U. S. company Pfizer, joining the European initiative.
The government had previously approved the purchase of 3 million doses of another drug from AstraZeneca. The first vaccines could come to the Czech Republic in the first quarter of next year, the minister said.
According to Blatný, Czechia joined the non-binding agreement on vaccine supplies last week, which was negotiated by the European Commission. “We believe that, as it is set up now, we should have around 5 million doses when the vaccine is available,” he said. He reiterated that after receiving vaccines, health professionals and seniors should be vaccinated first, with the goal of eventually vaccinating 50% to 60% of the population.
Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech were the first to release data from a clinical trial of the vaccine. Based on an ongoing analysis, they announced that it is more than 90% effective, so there is a good chance of its approval in the U.S. and its first application by the end of the year. AstraZeneca has not yet released the results of its clinical trials, nor have other companies that develop vaccines.
The Czech Republic formally joined the European Union’s initiative to ensure a supply of vaccines in June. Supply agreements are negotiated by the European Commission, and Member States have the opportunity to join them.
Over the summer, the EC first reached an agreement on supplies with the British company AstraZeneca, with which Czechia has 3 million doses reserved, according to Blatný. Per previous information, in addition to AstraZeneca and Pfizer, the Commission is also negotiating with Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, CureVac and Moderna.
According to the ministry’s earlier estimates, about 3.5 million people in the Czech Republic would be vaccinated in the first wave. There are about 200,000 health professionals, 2 million people over the age of 65, and another 1.3 million people who are younger but at risk due to chronic diseases. Some vaccines develop immunity after two doses, so about 7 million will be needed. The costs can range from 500 million to 5 billion korunas.
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization announced that 47 candidate vaccines against COVID-19 were in clinical trials and 155 vaccines are in preclinical testing. In the last, third phase of clinical trials, the WHO has ten vaccines listed.
Title image: A bus-stop ad for COVID-19 testing is shown outside Pfizer’s world headquarters in New York on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots could be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean a vaccine is imminent. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)