The decision was announced on Friday, January 8, by Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, and coincided with Health Minister Daniels Pavļuts' first day in his new job.
An agreement had previously been reached for the delivery of fewer than 200,000 doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. Latvia has so far received 23,400 doses, with a smaller delivery of 6,825 planned for the beginning of next week, with Kariņš expressing frustration that vaccination is not taking place more quickly.
"Comprehensive vaccination is our 'Baltic way' to freedom from pandemic... Vaccines must not be left in the refrigerator, otherwise we risk not vaccinating those who are ready!” said Pavļuts.
The government decided to allocate an additional 23 million euros to allow the Ministry of Health to purchase up to 1,403,000 additional doses of vaccine from the manufacturer.
Kariņš said that the additional doses are a significant improvement in the overall vaccine portfolio, promising that the government would make every effort to make the various vaccines available as soon as they are approved by EU regulators and available for delivery.
Minister of Health Daniels Pavļuts said that it will allow progress towards the goal of vaccinating 80% of the population by the end of the year.
Currently, Latvia has applied for vaccines developed by 5 manufacturers - BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca Johnson & Johnson, and CureVac. The AstraZeneca vaccine has yet to receive EU approval but is likely to receive it in coming weeks.
The total amount of these vaccines is 4,060,536 doses, which can be used to vaccinate 2,429,939 people. Latvia's current population is just under 2 million.