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Friday's papers: Vaccine access, government tensions and fine weather

How can smaller countries ensure they have access to a coronavirus vaccine?

Laboratoriomestari Eila korhonen tutkii soluviljelmää.
Vaccine production is difficult, but researchers are working at record speed to develop one for Covid-19. Image: Sami Takkinen / Yle

Coronavirus news dominates the press as usual, but Helsingin Sanomat has a piece on one potential end point for this epidemic: a vaccine.

The paper looks at how smaller countries like Finland might acquire millions of doses of a potential vaccine, if it is developed.

In effect, Finland has two options: Negotiating directly with manufacturers or the EU's joint procurement procedures.

In the age of US President Donald Trump and his 'America First' politics, that could be a complicated transaction.

HS notes that around half the some 120 vaccine candidates are developed in the United States. A fifth are in Europe and a fifth in China.

The Oxford University group has said the vaccine they are working on will not be sold to a single commercial operator, although they have already agreed a deal with AstraZeneca for some production.

Seven other projects have also entered clinical trials, with four of those in China. Two others are US vaccines, with one a joint German-US production.

The goal is to ensure that the vaccine is distributed as equitably as possible. HS quotes Meri Koivusalo from Tampere University as saying that the most sensible way would be to give it to healthcare workers first, as that would also ensure healthcare systems stood up to the challenge of handling large numbers of Covid-19 patients.

The ideal situation, according to HS, would be that several vaccines are proven successful and Finland has a choice. That way the price might also be lower.

"Red soil" tensions

Suomen Kuvalehti publishes a story around alleged tensions between the two largest parties in the government, the Centre and the Social Democrats.

The magazine says that Social Democrat Prime Minister Sanna Marin and her Centre Party Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni are not ideological soulmates.

SK says that the biggest issue is that Marin is on the left of her party, and Kulmuni is buffeted by different wings of the Centre. Some are not keen on this coalition, and others are okay with the red soil formation but want to stamp fiscal responsibility on the government's programme.

That feeds into the debate about coronavirus stimulus. That is accepted as a necessary part of the coming months and years, but Kulmuni and the Centre want to lock in austerity and spending cuts within four years to start reducing the state debt again.

That is a bitter pill for the SDP to swallow, but they somehow have to forge a consensus with the other four government parties.

Sun is shining

Iltalehti exults in the holiday weekend (following Ascension Thursday), saying that warmer weather is here for the next few days at least.

Temperatures are expected to top twenty degrees, but not quite reach the 'heatwave' point of 25 degrees Celsius.

The best of the weather is expected in Ostrobothnia, but most of the country should be able to catch a few rays. The next big rainfall, according to IL, is due only on Wednesday of next week.

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