Ville Peltola, chair of Finland’s National Advisory Committee on Vaccines (KRAR), on Friday said it was very likely the Pfizer vaccine would be available in Finland in the near future as it has already been approved in the UK.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said it will meet by 29 December to conclude its assessment of the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) announced on Thursday that coronavirus vaccinations will be rolled out to healthcare workers in January, and then to the elderly and at-risk groups in February. The rest of the population could expect to get the jab later in the spring.
The director of Tampere University's Vaccine Research Centre, Mika Rämet, said Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was 95 percent effective, following phase three trial data including 40,000 participants.
He said typical side effects from the jab included pain at the injection site, low-grade fever, muscle pains and headache, adding that these symptoms showed the body’s immune response to the virus.
Pfizer vaccine trial participants have been monitored for about two months after receiving the jab, according to Rämet, who said that most research regarding the vaccine has focused on working age adults.
Both Peltola and Rämet said more information was needed regarding the vaccine in children.
Rämet said he considered the possibility of long-term risks from the vaccine to be minimal as the body quickly destroys foreign RNA molecules.
Cold chain not safety risk
Pfizer's vaccine must be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius, but Peltola said he doesn’t see this as a problem.
"It’s an issue of how well the vaccine keeps. If heat destroys it, you won’t get the immunity but it’s not dangerous," he explained.
Peltola said the Pfizer vaccine’s cold storage requirements make it most suitable for healthcare workers.
The European Commission has also struck vaccine deals on behalf of member states with drug makers AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Curevac and Moderna. Finland will receive a share of doses from these companies corresponding to its population size, should these companies receive sales permits.