EU countries fail to agree to redistribute 10 million vaccine doses
The 27 EU countries on Thursday failed to agree on redistributing COVID-19 vaccine doses after several countries had claimed they were treated unfairly.
At the heart of the dispute had been delivery delays by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. This had led to demands by several EU members to have 10 million recently acquired extra doses from BioNTech/Pfizer redistributed in their favor.
But instead of finding a unified solution, three countries — Austria, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic — will now splinter off from the rest when it comes to sharing the 10 million doses that BioNTech/Pfizer promised to deliver by the end of June instead of later in the year. They will receive their share according to the existing pro-rata calculation, according to EU diplomats.
The other 24 will divvy up the doses in a more solidary manner, according to a political agreement reached by EU ambassadors on Thursday, giving a larger share to five in-need countries than they would receive under the normal pro-rata regime.
For example, Germany will receive only 1.3 million doses of the 10 million, as opposed to the 1.8 million it would have received if distributed according to a pure pro-rata calculation.
The extra doses will be redistributed to Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Latvia and Estonia.
The dispute flared up over criticism from Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Vienna didn’t initially make use of its full allocation of doses of certain jabs. Other EU countries then bought those doses up instead — which has now left Austria at a disadvantage, according to Kurz.
The country would now receive 199,000 doses instead of 139,000, “a solid result,” the Austrian chancellor said in Vienna on Thursday.
The reason for Austria’s refusal to share vaccine doses was that the Czech Republic was not receiving the necessary amount, Kurz said.
Austria would now discuss with other member states how it can “support the Czech Republic bilaterally in the spirit of European solidarity,” he added.