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Lithuania may need over 100 million euros to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, the country's prime minister and its health minister said on Tuesday.
Vakcina
Vakcina
© Itar-Tass / Scanpix

"If we decide on a mechanism to acquire all the amounts (...) on a pro rata basis, it will definitely make over 100 million euros," Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga told reporters.

"It wouldn’t necessarily cost that much, because it’s unclear how many of these vaccines will be proven to be effective and safe. This is the question," he added.

The minister said he cannot give exact figures because of both confidentiality obligations and uncertainty.

Currently, the talk is about purchasing vaccines from seven manufacturers, according to Veryga.

"No one can say how many of them (will be effective). There are no experts to ask about that. How to manage these risks is a matter of political determination," the minister said.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said that Lithuania must choose a strategy for vaccine purchases.

"The country has to choose whether to take or not to take not risks, and to what extent to take risks," Skvernelis said.

"These decisions concern the health and lives of our people, and our economy, and are about what consequences we'd face if we didn't vaccinate or didn't have a vaccine and how it would affect our economy, which would cost us more than hundreds of millions of euros," he said.

According to Veryga, the country could sign an agreement with only one manufacturer and risk ending up without any vaccine.

"None of the vaccines has been through the clinical trials and has been registered yet," he said. "We are now talking about contracts, about quantities, about a procurement mechanism".

Different states are dealing differently with this situation, the minister noted.

"In some countries, discussions move to the parliament, but it is usually the governments that decide," he said.

Countries will not have to pay for a vaccine unless it is proven effective.

But "if a vaccine (...) we commit to purchase (...) is proven effective, we'll have to buy it," the minister said.

Skvernelis said that the Cabinet is planning to make a decision on vaccine procurement on Wednesday.

The ruling coalition's council and the government's National Security Commission are to discuss the issue on Tuesday.

BNS
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