QCOSTARICA – The Ministry of Health and the National Emergency Commission (CNE) reported that Costa Rica signed with AstraZeneca to supply one million doses of its candidate vaccine against COVID-19, AZD1222, developed together with the University of Oxford. Said million doses will cover half a million people because two applications are required for each person.
It is estimated that the vaccine will be available as of the first quarter of 2021, if the clinical trials underway are successful and subject to approval by regulatory agencies. Each dose will be priced at a cost of us$4 (two doses per person), THE price that does not include distribution costs that will be additional.
Phase II / III clinical trials are underway in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Brazil, while Phase I / II clinical trials are ongoing in South Africa, Japan, Kenya, and Russia. These trials will determine vaccine protection against COVID-19 and measure immune response and safety in up to 50,000 participants globally across a wide age range and diverse groups and geographies.
This agreement joins Costa Rica’s adherence to the COVAX-Facility mechanism, which provides for a population coverage of just over one million people, as well as the agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech for the immunization of one and a half million individuals, allowing, in total, vaccinate more than three million people.
Vaccine purchases would be made through the National Emergency Fund by way of exception allowed by Emergency Law 8488.
“This important advance in the task of preparing ourselves to vaccinate the population when vaccines are available is the result of the great work that the National Vaccine Commission has been developing and reflects our primary commitment to protect the health and life of citizens against the pandemic, using all the means at our disposal,” said the President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado, at Thursday’s press conference.
With this, Costa Rica now has three agreements that would allow access to vaccines for just over three million people.
The other two are with the Covax mechanism, to provide a vaccine for one million people and with Pfizer for the immunization of a million and a half.
When will the vaccination start?
The deputy Minister of Health, Pedro González, explained that, for various reasons, including production capacity, vaccination is expected to take place throughout 2021, without the plan yet being in place.
It was clear that it will be directed with priority to populations at risk, since the first objective is to reduce deaths.
“The Vaccine Commission is reviewing those issues in detail. The country has a very solid vaccination system, there is no fear regarding the challenges that this campaign may generate,” he said.
Leandra Abarca, coordinator of the CCSS Expanded Immunization Program, for her part, confirmed that they will analyze the strategies by which they will apply the vaccine, for which they must take into account availability since it is a fact that not all doses will arrive at the same time.
“They will available to the entire network of vaccinations and the entire population at risk, it has to be a shared challenge with the population. When it begins to be applied, we will have to establish different characteristics, because it is not like any other,” said the coordinator.
At the moment, it is ruled out that the doses reach private pharmacies or health centers, as clarified by the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas.
The reason, he pointed out, is mainly due to availability, so in the first instance, it will be managed through the Caja.
He reiterated that the efforts will be to reach the population at risk, that is, seniors and those with risk factors.