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The agreement is for 3 million doses to allow two vaccines to be applied to 1.5 million people
 - A.M. Costa Rica illustrative photo -































 












Published Friday, October 2, 2020

Costa Rica signs an agreement with
Pfizer and BioNTech to purchase
vaccines against covid-19


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Authorities of the Ministry of Health announced on Thursday an agreement with the companies Pfizer and BioNTech for the purchase of the BNT162b2 vaccine against covid-19.

According to the ministry, this vaccine is mRNA-based, patented by BioNTech and endorsed by Pfizer, and it will be produced after proving success from clinical studies and regulations.

The agreement is for 3 million doses. This will allow two vaccines to be applied to 1.5 million people, the government said in its statement.

The cost of these purchased vaccines has not been disclosed per commercial confidentiality agreement required by the companies, the government said. The National Emergency Fund is paying for the vaccines, with an estimate of receiving the treatment gradually in the first quarter of 2021. This depends on the clinical success demonstrated in these treatments.

This agreement joins the announcement of Costa Rica's adhesion to the COVAX-Facility mechanism, for the purchase of vaccines for more than one million people. With both agreements, there is an estimated 2.5 million people to receive the vaccine against covid-19.

However, between both agreements there are not enough vaccines to cover the entire population of the country. According to the Statistics and Census Institute, the population of the country is at approximately 5 million inhabitants.

The government is expected to announce the strategy for obtaining the vaccine for the remaining 50% of the population that is not included in these agreements.

Last week the government joined the COVAX-Facility program coordinated by the World Health Organization, WHO.

"This is one more of the efforts made by the government to obtain the necessary vaccine to face covid-19," President Carlos Alvarado said. "When it is available, we will be guaranteeing the protection of the right to health, which is an invaluable right and is necessary more to lift the post-pandemic economy. In this same direction, other efforts are being developed to have more vaccines, which will be announced."

In the case of COVAX agreement, the first advance payment of $6,316,560 or 30% of the cost must be made during October, the government said in its statement. The payment is based on the price that was set by COVAX at $10.55 per dose. The price includes factory costs, access, financing, risk mitigation and operating costs.

COVAX-Facility is led by GAVI-Alliance, which is a private non-profit foundation of the WHO, the United Nations Children's Fund is a United Nations, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda GATES Foundation and the World Bank.

The COVAX program was announced in April by WHO, the European Commission and France. The collaborative effort focuses on the development of vaccines against covid-19 and has the participation of governments, WHO, manufacturers, scientists, among others.

According to the government, the country will have access to candidate vaccine doses as a result of advance purchase commitments. As the doses of the candidate and selected vaccines become available, the country will have the opportunity to purchase approved vaccines from the manufacturers.

On Sept. 22, the government announced the budget of approximately $12,052,533 for the purchase of vaccines against covid-19.

The money would be paid in advance to the chosen company that provides the vaccines, to guarantee the first purchase of the treatment.

The capital was included in the third extra-budget that the government has presented to Congress, for the analysis process and the consequent rejection or approval.

If the budget is approved by the deputies, the capital would be assigned to the Ministry of Health and then transferred to the National Emergency Commission to purchase the vaccines.

According to the government, the budget for the purchase of vaccines comes from savings in interest from the exchange of expensive debt for a cheaper one.

The resources to buy vaccines are covered with a reduction in the interest item of long-term securities, because space has been generated for the improvement of debt management, the international loan process and the less interest pressure in the placement of bonds, the government said in its statement.

According to the Ministry of Health, they are in the process of analyzing six possible vaccines against covid-19.

This investigation is being carried out with the support of Social Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The final decision will be made based on technical and logistical information from the following six laboratories that are developing the vaccine against covid-19: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sinovac, Sinofarm, Moderna and Sputnik V.

For the moment, all the vaccines are specifically for people over the age of 18. Once the vaccine is approved, specialists said they plan to first vaccinate people who are within high-risk groups for infection. This group will be established by the National Vaccine Commission. The second set of priority patients vaccinated are the health workers and people who are in the first line of response in the emergency.

Developing the cure against covid-19 is imperative to control the spread of the virus that has caused thousands of deaths every day.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health shared the latest information on the statistics of the virus:

1,068 new covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 36,068 active cases.

13,944 foreign-born people have been infected with a total of 76,828 cases since March, approximately 18.1% of the total cases.

• 572 patients are being treated in public hospitals, where 221 patients are in ICU’s in delicate health conditions (ages range from 1-year-old baby to a 91-year-old person). And 351 patients are in recovery rooms. The majority of the rest of the infected patients are quarantined in their homes.

• 39,843 coronavirus patients have fully recovered, which is a 51.9% recovery rate of the total cases since March.

• 139,852 people have been ruled out.

• 231,928 medical covid-19 tests have been made.

917 deaths of people infected with covid-19, approximately 1.2% death rate of the total cases since March. Of these 350 were women and 567 men. The ages range from 19 to a 100-year-old person.

As of Aug. 31, authorities confirmed the death of 31 foreign-born patients. The youngest and most recent reported foreign-born was a 19-year-old woman who lived in Guanacaste Province. Before then, on July 30, the ministry announced they would not provide updated information on foreign-born people who died from covid-19 in the country, which at the time authorities reported 30 had died from the virus since March.

Readers can see the updated number of total patients in each district at the National Distance Education University on its
Covid-19 Map.



As of Thursday night, the pandemic has killed 1,022,297 patients worldwide, according to recent statistics reported by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.


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How is your government planning to purchase and disperse the covid-19 vaccine in the country?  
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com






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