Saturday 9/18/21

Finland to donate unwanted AstraZeneca, Janssen vaccines to developing countries

These vaccines are not given in Finland due to concerns about blood clots
FILED - 31 March 2021, Schleswig-Holstein, Wedel: The logo on the building of the pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca in Wedel, Germany. The European Union and British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca have a deal struck ending litigation in a row over Covid-19 vaccine supply. Photo: Georg Wendt/dpa
The logo on a building of the pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca in Germany. Photo: Georg Wendt/dpa.

Finland is donating to developing countries the vaccine doses of the British-Swedish Astrazeneca and the American Johnson & Johnson (developed by its subsidiary Janssen) that it purchased but decided not to administer to its citizens due to blood clotting concerns.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs informed that the Nordic country will participate in the EU cooperation that enables donation of vaccines purchased in advance.

During this autumn, about 3.6 million vaccines will be donated to developing countries. "The vaccine donations will not slow down the rollout of vaccinations in Finland," the Ministry said in a statement.

Vaccines are offered to low- and middle-income countries that have experienced problems with their availability through the international COVAX AMC (Advanced Market Commitment) financial mechanism.

In its session on 9 September, the Finnish Government decided to donate three million Astra Zeneca and 650,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses.

According to the government, the total value of these vaccines is 10 million euros.

Unwanted for Finnish people

In May, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported that it had excluded the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from its Covid-19 vaccination program for the Finnish population.

Johnson and Johnson's drug is an adenoviral vector vaccine, the same type as AstraZeneca's, which was also excluded from the vaccination calendar for the general population. After a temporary suspension, the Finnish health authorities decided to recommend the AstraZeneca jab only for people over 65 years of age, but it has hardly been administered due to general rejection.

The reason is the concern that emerged following reports about serious side effects such as blood clots in the brain. In April, the health authorities reported several cases of thrombosis among Finnish patients, of which one died.

The vaccines that Finland will donate will be delivered directly from the international pharmaceutical manufacturers to the countries in question.

'Vaccine solidarity'

Finland says it is "committed to vaccine solidarity" and participates in the EU commitment to donate at least 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.

According to the current plans, the EU will donate more than 200 million doses before the turn of the year.

Finland considers this work "very important," placing particular emphasis on humanitarian needs and the delivery of vaccines through COVAX AMC to countries that need them the most.

The government stressed that vaccine donations will not slow down the rollout of vaccinations in Finland. The country had originally reserved vaccines in excess of its needs.