Public health officials have confirmed that there would be a national, free-of-charge coronavirus vaccination programme in Finland – but that only relatively small amounts of any successful vaccine might be delivered in the initial stages.
Speaking at a Thursday briefing, Hanna Nohynek from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said that between 1% and 10% of needed vaccines might come at first, and that it all depends on the manufacturer’s priorities.
Authorities are looking to procure three different classes of possible Covid-19 vaccines, and working out who would get priority to receive it.
Earlier this week Pfizer and Biontech reported that a vaccine they’ve got under development had a 90% effectiveness at protecting against the symptoms of Covid-19, but there’s no data yet on whether it reduces infections or prevents the virus from spreading. A Russian drugs study also in the testing phase, but with a smaller sample size, claimed a 92% effectiveness this week also.
More than 300 vaccines are currently being developed with 54 in the clinical testing phase, and 10 in the final phase of studies – the Pfizer and Biontech drug is one of those ten.
Nohynek says that until an effective vaccine is brought to market, everyone should continue with coronavirus precautions for the time being.
Coronavirus situation in Finland
Taneli Puumalainen from THL says that Finland has done relatively well in protecting itself during this second wave of infections, but cautions against complacency.
“Although the situation has remained more or less at the same level, we cannot trust that our situation will remain as it is when we look at the rest of Europe” says Puumalainen.
He noted in particular a virus spike in northern Sweden which could have the potential to strain local healthcare facilities on the Finnish side of the border too.
“The rapidly rising incidence of Norrbotten in Sweden has been reflected to some extent on the Finnish side of the border, and this situation must be monitored very closely” he told reporters.
There were 198 new cases of Covid-19 reported in Finland today, with 73 patients in hospital, 14 of those in intensive care.