A Fifth of Icelandic Population to be Vaccinated Before the End of 2021

Iceland intends to vaccinate a fifth of the nation against COVID-19 by the end of next year, RÚV reports.

Iceland has expressed interest in joining the WHO’s COVAX Facility, a World Health Organization (WHO)-backed initiative intended to ensure that countries around the world have fast and fair access to COVID-19 vaccines. In a press conference on Thursday, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason noted that taking part in COVAX will “guarantee us vaccines when the time comes.” Of the 80 nations that have expressed interest in participating in the project in various ways, he continued, “Nine vaccine manufacturers have been selected to collaborate on this project, which seems likely to yield positive results; six of them already have vaccines in clinical trials.”

See Also: Iceland Contributes ISK 500 Million to International Vaccine Development Initiative

Vaccinating a fifth of the Icelandic population is expected to cost ISK 700 million [€4.44 million; $5.15 million]. “It’s been determined that each person will need two doses in order to be fully inoculated. We anticipate that each dose of the vaccine will cost around ISK 5,000 [€32; $37],” explained Þórólfur.

Asked how authorities would be deciding who would be vaccinated, Þórólfur said it wasn’t yet time to work out such details, but that it was likely that a similar approach would be taken as was during the N1H1 pandemic of 2009, namely that at-risk individuals and healthcare workers would be given priority.

“There are always grumblings and discrepancies about who people think should get priority—it’s just one of the epidemiologist’s headaches,” Þórólfur concluded.

Iceland Contributes ISK 500 Million to International Vaccine Development Initiative

As part of an international coalition of nations, corporations, and institutions, Iceland is contributing ISK 500 million ($3.8 million/€3.36 million) to global efforts to develop a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. This announcement was made during a virtual conference held by the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, according to a press release on the Icelandic Government’s website.

The coalition, which was founded a month ago, aims to accelerate the development, production, and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. It also intends to support the taking of samples and broadly applicable treatment solutions for all people, regardless of residence and economic status. The World Health Organization is part of the coalition, which has been promised millions (in USD) in support from Norway, and hundreds of millions (in USD) in support from the US, the UK, Canada, and Germany.

Iceland will be dividing its contribution: half will go to the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, and half will go to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI).

The virtual conference was also tele-attended by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Microsoft founder Bill Gates was one of the speakers. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $250 million (ISK 32.8 billion/€220.6 million) to fight COVID-19.

When announcing Iceland’s contribution, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir emphasised the importance of equal access to health care and safe vaccines, irrespective of gender, economic status, or place of residence. “Equal access to health care is one of the most important public health issues and guarantees the most basic human right – the right to life. Vaccines provide all generations the opportunity for a healthy and fulfilling life.”

The Gavi conference aimed to raise $7.4 billion (ISK 972 billion/€6.53 billion) for its efforts, but it did even better, raising $8.8 billion (ISK 1.1 trillion/€7.77 billion).