Sweden will be able to offer vaccines to between 3 to 6 million citizens following a deal between the European Union (EU) and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, in which the coronavirus vaccine will be distributed to member states according to their population size, a Swedish official said on Thursday.
The Swedish government decided on Thursday to take part in the EU program, which was announced earlier this month when the bloc secured a deal with AstraZeneca to buy at least 300 million doses of potential coronavirus vaccine, if it wins approval from regulators.
Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren said at a press conference on Thursday in Stockholm that the vaccine being developed “looks promising” and that clinical studies will have to determine whether one or two doses are needed for a complete protection.
That means that between three and six million Swedes could be vaccinated in the initial stage, where Sweden will get 6 million doses. The country, which has a population of 10 million, may also be able to purchase a further two million doses at a later stage, according to the government.
The country’s Public Health Agency has been tasked with devising a plan for how to distribute the vaccine, which will likely go first to at-risk individuals and personnel within the health care sector.
“The exact details will be determined when we know what types of vaccines we are dealing with,” Hallengren said.
Apart from AstraZeneca, the government is also, via the European Commission, in talks with Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson and Curevac.
“We don’t know which vaccine is most effective. For instance, we know that it is difficult to achieve immunity among elderly people. It’s important not to put all of one’s eggs in one basket,” said Sweden’s vaccine coordinator Richard Bergstrom, at the press conference.
Explaining the negotiating process, Bergstrom said: “Within a couple of weeks, we’ll have three deals to consider and after that a further three or four within one or two months. We are negotiating with everyone since we want to cover our backs. ”
The COVID-19 death toll in Sweden hit 5,805 till Thursday. The total number of confirmed cases is now 85,810, statistics from the Swedish Public Health Agency statistics showed. Enditem