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Finland targeting bigger share of new BioNTech vaccine order

The EU has doubled it's order of the vaccine as supply issues hit the vaccine rollout.

Koronarokotepullo. injektioruisku ja adrenaliiniruiskeita pöydällä.
Finland and Europe are looking for more vaccines to fight the coronavirus epidemic. Image: Petri Aaltonen / Yle

Finland is aiming to secure a bigger share of the EU's joint BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus vaccine procurement than it would be allocated based on its population.

That's according to Tuija Kumpulainen from the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health, who said on Yle's A-Studio talk show on Tuesday that negotiations are ongoing.

The EU has effectively doubled its order for the Covid vaccine from 300 million doses to 600 million, with deliveries starting in the second quarter of the year.

Those vaccines would be distributed according to EU countries' population sizes, but some countries have not bought their full allocation of vaccines because the vaccine must be stored at -70 degrees, which makes logistics difficult for a vaccination programme.

Kumpulainen said on Tuesday that Finland had secured hundreds of thousands of additional doses from the initial order back in the autumn, but declined to say exactly how many.

It has been reported that at least Germany, Denmark, France and Estonia have also purchased additional doses of the vaccine.

The Finnish government has faced criticism over the pace of the vaccine rollout, and earlier this week Prime Minister Sanna Marin asked the EU Commission to speed up supply lines.

The BioNTech vaccine is in a crucial position as the only approved vaccine that is widely available for EU countries. The Moderna vaccine that was approved last week remains in short supply, with the first shipments heading to Italy and Spain this week.

Mia Kontio from the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on A-Studio that Finland has ordered around two million doses of the Moderna vaccine, and a few thousand doses are expected this week.

Some 100,000 doses of the BioNTech vaccine have already arrived, and another 50,000 are due on Wednesday and Thursday, according to Kontio.

By Tuesday evening Finland had given more than 50,000 doses, according to Kontio.

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