ESI funds are used to support potential vaccine producers, and finance part of vaccine development and production capacity costs.
"This budget is used to finance vaccine developers. This is not paying for the vaccine itself. The European Commission is thus funding potential vaccine developers and giving them funds so as many vaccines as possible are developed and reach the final stages," Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga told the Cabinet on Wednesday.
"Currently, 22 vaccine candidates meet the criteria set by the European Commission. Negotiations with some producers are ongoing, but talks with others haven't even started," he said. "Talks with seven potential producers are in advanced stages, and the Commission has already signed a preliminary agreement with one (potential producer)."
However, the government made it a condition that possibilities for a more efficient allocation of existing ESI funds be assessed before providing additional money.
Last week, the European Commission informed member states that the ESI funds earmarked for supporting vaccine producers were insufficient and that a total of 750 million euros in additional funds were needed to conclude talks and contracts with vaccine producers.
EU countries earlier agreed to support more vaccine developers by including vaccine candidates being developed based on different technological methods. The aim is to increase the chances of creating and purchasing an effective coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible.
The Commission has signed a preliminary purchase agreement with British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca which expects to be among the first to start producing a COVID-19 vaccine.