Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Thursday hailed the purchase of 6.9 million doses of potential vaccines against COVID-19, saying that it was a “fundamental step” to “overcome the crisis.”
“Today is an important day. We can believe that it is within our reach… a vaccine developed by science and produced by industry, but properly marketed, distributed and accessible to the population,” he said during a visit to a hospital in Vila Nova de Gaia, northern Portugal.
According to the prime minister, the “European Union (EU) coordinated a joint acquisition for the different countries,” and on Thursday Portugal’s Council of Ministers officially authorized the acquisition of the first lot.
“The EU selected six of the various vaccines that are under development worldwide as the six that were worth investing in,” said Costa, revealing that Portugal will pay 20 million euros (23.67 million U.S. dollars).
The prime minister said that from the “optimistic” point of view, “at the end of this year there will be the first batches.”
He showed caution, however, in stating that it is necessary to prepare for all possible scenarios, and that “until there is a general immunization of the population or treatment for this disease, we must be prepared for the worst.”
Costa said that “the competent authorities” will be responsible for defining “the criteria to be followed by progressive, universal and free vaccination of the Portuguese population to ensure immunization.”