The first 10,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine landed in Iceland this morning shortly after 9.00am, Vísir reports. Vaccination is scheduled to begin tomorrow and all 10,000 doses are to be administered before the end of the year. Though the arrival of the first COVID-19 vaccine to the island is certainly a watershed moment, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason has stated that herd immunity to COVID-19 may not be achieved in Iceland before the second half of next year.
An aeroplane transporting Iceland’s first doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine landed at Keflavík International Airport this morning. The vaccines will be taken to Icelandic drug distributor Distica’s facilities, where they will be examined to ensure they have not been damaged in transport. Iceland’s Health Minister, Chief Epidemiologist, Director of Health, and Director of Civil Protection will be present at the facilities when the vaccine arrives.
Healthcare Workers Among First to Receive Shot
If all goes as planned, COVID-19 vaccination will begin in Iceland tomorrow. Among the first to receive the vaccine will be 770 employees of the National University Hospital’s COVID-19 ward, emergency ward, intensive care ward, and children’s emergency services. Nursing home residents and staff will also be among the first to be vaccinated. Each individual will receive two doses of the vaccine with a minimum 21-day interval. Vaccination will be free of charge and optional.
Herd Immunity Through Pfizer Alone?
Iceland is currently scheduled to receive 3,000 additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine per week in January and February, and a total of 170,000 doses of the vaccine from the manufacturer, or enough to vaccinate 85,000 people. Iceland is in various stages of negotiations to acquire five other COVID-19 vaccines through the European Union. Most of the vaccines are, however, in early stages of development and the Chief Epidemiologist has stated that it could take as long as six months to vaccinate a majority of the nation and achieve herd immunity.
Icelandic authorities are, however, attempting to speed up the process. Both the Chief Epidemiologist and deCODE CEO Kári Stefánsson are in direct negotiations with Pfizer in an attempt to secure enough doses for the entire population of 368,000. Authorities argue that Iceland would be an ideal place to conduct a country-wide study on the effects of the vaccine and developing herd immunity. Were Iceland to receive enough doses of COVID-19 vaccine at once, authorities have stated that it would be possible to vaccinate most of the country’s population within days.