Sweden to buy six million doses of coronavirus vaccine from AstraZeneca

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Sweden to buy six million doses of coronavirus vaccine from AstraZeneca
Health Minister Lena Hallengren, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, and the government's vaccine coordinator Richard Bergström. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The Swedish government has signed off on an EU deal with British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to provide six million doses of vaccine against the coronavirus if it wins approval from regulators.


The vaccine will be shared out between the EU countries that are part of the deal based on their population size, which means Sweden will receive six million doses at the initial stage, said Health Minister Lena Hallengren.

The government has also ordered the Public Health Agency to work out a plan for once there is a vaccine available, which would outline who in Sweden would be vaccinated first and how the process would work.

"Those who receive it first will probably be people in risk groups and people working in the health and social care sector," said Hallengren as she presented the news together with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Sweden's vaccine coordinator Richard Bergström.

But she added that this was just the first step of the process and that the government aimed to "secure vaccine for the entire population based on needs". Sweden is also involved in ongoing negotiations, via the EU commission, to purchase vaccines from pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson and Curevac.


"We don't know which vaccine works the best. It is for example known that it is difficult to get immunity among elderly people," Bergström told the press conference on Thursday afternoon.

"The EU commission is stepping in with support before we know whether or not the vaccine works. The fact that the commission takes on the financial risk helps speed up the process," he explained.

Löfven said that a vaccine was a "decisive factor in being able to return to normal".

He said most people in Sweden had been following the country's coronavirus recommendations this summer, and that things were moving in the right direction. Sweden has seen a sharp drop in new cases since spring, but there has been a slight uptick or signs of a plateau phase in recent weeks in various parts of the country.

Löfven pointed out that the situation was "fragile" and urged people to keep following the Public Health Agency's guidelines, adding that the government would be prepared to introduce new measures if things deteriorate.

"The crisis is not over," he said.


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