Finland joins EU procurement program for COVID-19 vaccines

BRUSSELS, March 18, 2020 (Xinhua) -- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at a press conference after a video conference in Brussels, Belgium, March 17, 2020. The heads of state and government of the European Union (EU) agreed during the video conference on Tuesday to endorse a temporary restriction on travels to the EU territory amid coronavirus concerns. (European Union/Handout via Xinhua)

Finland has decided to take part in the joint European Union (EU) agreement to purchase coronavirus vaccines and informed the European Commission of its decision on Friday, the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said in a statement.

The European Commission has said that it will have a contractual framework in place for the initial purchase of 225 million doses of coronavirus vaccines on behalf of all EU member states, to be supplied once a vaccine has proven to be safe and effective against COVID-19.

Finland’s decision to join the agreement is the first step on the long road toward finding a safe and effective vaccine for the entire population. Finland’s goal is to protect the entire population with vaccines once they become available, the ministry statement said.

Finland is prepared to take part in future agreements negotiated by the Commission with several different vaccine manufacturers, with a view to obtaining vaccines that utilize a variety of technological solutions, said the statement.

“This way, Finland hopes to manage the risks that may arise if one of the new vaccines proves ineffective or if a vaccine fails to get the approval of pharmaceutical authorities,” the ministry said.

Finland has also expressed its interest in participating in COVAX, an international mechanism working to ensure equitable access to vaccines. The final decision on participation in this collaboration will be made by Aug. 31, it said.

Worldwide, more than 200 vaccine candidates of seven different types are being developed.

The ministry also warned that the development of a safe and effective vaccine usually takes several years, and only some vaccine candidates prove successful, and the risks of failure are high. “It is therefore likely that a large proportion of the vaccines currently being developed will not receive marketing authorization,” it added.

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