In Latvia, according to a very optimistic estimate, the wave of vaccination against Covid-19 could start in February, said Dace Zavadska, President of the State Council for Immunization for the portal “lsm.lv”.
Once the vaccine has been registered with the European Medicines Agency, it will take at least a few more weeks for the vaccine to be delivered first to EU countries and then to vaccination offices. “Therefore, according to a very optimistic estimate, the vaccination itself could start in February,” Zavadska said.
These vaccines will not be available for a certain amount, including in private clinics. All at-risk groups will be vaccinated in return – doctors, people over 60, police officers, teachers and so on. “If then we see that the vaccines are still left, we will expand the circle to which they will be available. “But it will certainly not happen that private clinics start creating their own pay queues,” Zavadska said.
Initially, vaccinations will be carried out by hospitals, probably mobile teams. After that, the big medical centers will be gradually involved, but later probably the family doctors as well.
Yuri Perevoshchikov, director of the Infectious Disease Risk Analysis and Prevention Department at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (SPCC), said that according to the World Health Organization, vaccine needs of all countries would be met by September next year. “It does not happen immediately, in January, that enough vaccines are made for everyone,” the expert added.
Regarding the duration of the immunity, Zavadska points out that some patients in the groups for voluntary examination of vaccine developers already had a full course of vaccination during the summer. The level of antibodies does not seem to have decreased for them yet, but it is still not clear whether the immunity will last for a year, two or five years. For now, this infection does not look like a lifelong vaccine.
It is currently not possible to say whether the public will have to live with Covid-19 for a long time. There are many infectious diseases with flare-ups, peaking every three or five years, but there is a decline in morbidity between epidemics. It is possible that Covid-19 may be similar, and that much of the world’s population will eventually become immune, either to the vaccine or to the disease.
Zavadska also noted that all three vaccine manufacturers in the European Union – Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca – have applied for an expedited assessment, but which one will be approved by the European Medicines Agency at this time. Latvia has high hopes for all three vaccines.
Residents will have no particular choice as to which vaccines to receive. “One vaccine may be more effective for the elderly, another for the young. We will evaluate it. However, in general, of course, there will be no special options for selection,” Zavadska said.
It has already been announced that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) this week received two applications for registration of vaccines against Covid-19 – from BioNTech and Pfizer, as well as from the pharmaceutical company Moderna.
The ECA plans to issue a recommendation for the vaccine developed by BioNTek and Pfizer by December 29, and for the Moderna vaccine by January 12. If it is concluded that these vaccines are effective, high quality and safe, the ESA will recommend that the European Commission approve or register them. Once the vaccine is registered in the European Union (EU), it will be available at the same time in the same quantities in all EU Member States as soon as possible, from a few weeks to a few months.
The Latvian Ministry of Health estimates that vaccinating the Latvian population against Covid-19 in 2021 could cost 26.7m euros. These costs include payment for vaccines, their delivery, logistics and administration and are planned to cover unforeseen costs from the state budget.
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry Secretary of State Daina Merman-Umbrasko revealed this week in the Latvian program “Crosspoints” that she hopes to receive the first vaccines against Covid-19 by Christmas or early next year.
She said it was planned to initially receive 6,000 vaccines, which would be used to vaccinate doctors.