2020.09.22 14:31

Buying Covid-19 vaccines may cost over €100m for Lithuania – officials

BNS2020.09.22 14:31

Lithuania may need over 100 million euros to purchase Covid-19 vaccines, according to government officials.

If the government decides to cover its bases and make agreements with all the manufacturers that are currently developing coronavirus vaccines, “it will definitely make over 100 million euros”, Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga told reporters on Tuesday.

“It wouldn’t necessarily cost that much, because it’s unclear how many of these vaccines will be proven effective and safe,” he added.

The minister said he could not give exact figures because of both confidentiality obligations and uncertainty.

Currently, the government considers purchasing vaccines from seven manufacturers, according to Veryga.

“No one can say how many of them [will be effective]. There are no experts to ask about that. How to manage these risks is a political decision,” the minister said.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said that Lithuania must choose a strategy for vaccine purchases.

“These decisions concern the health and lives of our people, and our economy, and are about what consequences we'd face if we didn't vaccinate or didn't have a vaccine and how it would affect our economy, which would cost us more than hundreds of millions of euros,” he said.

According to Veryga, the country could sign an agreement with only one manufacturer and risk ending up without any vaccine.

“None of the vaccines have been through the clinical trials and have been registered yet,” he said. “We are now talking about contracts, about quantities, about a procurement mechanism.”

Different countries are dealing differently with the situation, the minister noted.

“In some countries, discussions move to the parliament, but it is usually the governments that decide,” he said.

Countries will not have to pay for a vaccine unless it is proven effective.

But “if a vaccine [...] we commit to purchasing [...] is proven effective, we'll have to buy it”, the minister said.

Skvernelis said that the Cabinet was planning to make a decision on vaccine procurement on Wednesday.

The ruling coalition's council and the government's National Security Commission are discussing the issue on Tuesday.