Czech Health Ministry: first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine expected by January

Enough vaccines for 4.5 million people are expected to arrive to the Czech Republic by April 2021

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 15.11.2020 06:00 (updated on 14.11.2020)

The first COVID-19 vaccines should begin to arrive to the Czech Republic from January, a Czech Health Ministry spokesperson has told iDnes.cz this weekend.

"The situation is constantly evolving and it is very difficult to predict exact dates," the Ministry's Kryštof Berka told the server.

"At the moment, it looks like deliveries may begin by the end of the year, or rather in January. However, it will begin with only a part of the purchased doses, the vaccines will be delivered gradually."

According to Berka, the vaccines are expected to be delivered over the course of six months, with the majority of them coming in April. The ministry is currently negotiating shipments of vaccines from three different companies, enough doses to cover 4.5 million people, more than 40% of the Czech population.

A total of three million doses have been ordered from the firm AstraZeneca, enough doses to vaccinate 1.5 million people.

"We also requested two million doses of a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson," says Berka, which will be enough to vaccinate two million people. "It is the only single-dose vaccine," he adds.

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Another two million doses from Pfizer are also currently being negotiated. The Czech Republic does not communicate directly with the manufacturers, but rather through the European Commission, who is negotiating on behalf of EU member states.

According to the Czech Health Ministry, the vaccine will be distributed through a National Vaccination Strategy Against COVID-19. According to the strategy, at-risk groups including senior citizens and those with weakened immunity will have first access to the vaccines, amounting to 3.5 million people.

In the second stage of distribution, vaccines will be made available for all healthcare personnel and workers in critical infrastructure. The Czech government will cover the cost of the vaccine for the first and second waves of distribution.

In the last stage of distribution, the vaccine will be made available to the general public, who must pay for it out of pocket.

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According to the World Health Organization, there are currently 164 COVID-19 vaccines in preclinical development, and another 48 in clinical trials. Among those, ten are in the third and last stage of trials.