Tuesday 21 September 2021

Private sale of the Covid-19 vaccine in Costa Rica seen difficult in the short term

The vaccines in the country are products with emergency approval, registration is a much more complicated process; Pfizer denies deals with private bidders

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QCOSTARICA – Private clinics and pharmacies are in the possibility of starting the processes to sell vaccines against covid-19 in Costa Rica, however, the possibility of bringing and registering the drugs in the country is complicated.

Roberto Arroba Tijerino, National Coordinator of Immunizations of the Ministry of Health and technical secretary of the National Commission of Vaccination and Epidemiology (CNVE), confirmed that there are private health service providers who have shown an interest, but so far none has made it happen.

The process to be followed is more rigorous than with other products and the Health registration will include several evaluations.

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This is because the vaccines currently being applied are authorized for emergency use and not approved private commercialization.

“An emergency use permit means that they cannot be sold privately. (…) one thing is an authorization for emergency use and another is a health record,” stressed Arroba.

In an interview with La Nación on Wednesday, Arroba stated that it would be very difficult for vaccines to be sold in private establishments in the short term.

“The same pharmaceutical companies have told us that they themselves are not in a position to market vaccines privately,” Arroba stressed.

Also of interest: Pharmacies could sell any Covid-19 vaccine authorized by regulatory agencies

This Thursday morning it was revealed were alleged negotiations between the Clinica Biblica Hospital and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine line), Pfizer and Moderna, for the purchase of vaccine doses.

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La Nacion report said that the Clinica Bibilica did not respond to their inquiries. For their part, Pfizer denied the possibility of selling vaccines to private suppliers in any country in the world.

“In the current context of emergency due to the pandemic, the sale of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 through private channels is not planned,” said Roberto Dormond, director of Public Affairs for Pfizer Central America and the Caribbean,

“To ensure equity in access to their vaccine during this stage of the global emergency, companies are prioritizing their available doses for supply agreements signed with national governments and supranational organizations such as the COVAX mechanism; providing doses in accordance with designated distribution channels and vaccination sites, subject to corresponding authorization or regulatory approval,” he added.

Logistics and cold chain

In addition to guaranteeing the product, private companies must also take into consideration various aspects related to application logistics, before vaccinating.

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For example, not all might have the -70° C or -20° C (-94° F or -4° F)  and storage conditions required by Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, respectively.

This requires special ultra-low temperature freezers.

In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, which comes in vials with six doses which must be prepared with a dissolved serum, it should also be taken into account that once the doses are prepared they must be applied in a period of no more than six hours.

But it would be easier to save doses of AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson, whose storage temperature is the same as that of the rest of the vaccines available in Costa Rica: between 2° C and 8° C.

Commitment

In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, Costa Rica has an agreement with this pharmaceutical for 4,000,425 doses. The original purchase was for 3 million doses. On March 15, 2021, Costa Rica signed with Pfizer for the purchase of 1 million additional vaccines.

With the latest shipment received on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, the total doses shipped by Pfizer since the first on December 23, 2020, now stands at 1,022,685 doses.

In addition to the Pfizer vaccines, Costa Rica has contracts with AstraZeneca for 1,092,000 doses, and with the multilateral COVAX mechanism for 2,037,600 doses (43,200 doses were received on April 7, 2021). Deliveries are expected to in May.

Read also: Costa Rica’s Minister of Health first to be vaccinated with Astra Zeneca vaccine

Thus, the total number of COVID-19 vaccine supply agreements for the country amounts to 7,130,025 doses, enough to vaccinate 3,565,012 people over 18 years of age.

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