Medical &Health

EU squabbles over 10 million doses of Pfizer vaccine

EU nations fell out Thursday over how

to divide up 10 million extra doses of coronavirus vaccine with Austria,

Slovenia and the Czech Republic refusing to help five struggling countries.

A deal was agreed late in the day to distribute nearly three million doses

to “those most in need”, said Portugal, which holds the rotating European

Union presidency.

But Austria, Slovenia and the Czechs had insisted on receiving their full

quota of vaccines under the general shareout system according to population,

said a statement from the presidency.

A main group of 19 states including Germany, France, Italy and Spain had

decided to show solidarity with Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and

Slovakia.

The five considered most in need will now get their full quota of 2,854,654

doses.

The large group will share out 6.66 million vaccines.

Two days of talks between ambassadors had failed to persuade Austria,

Slovenia and the Czechs to help out.

In the end, Prague lost 143,000 after refusing a compromise, a European

diplomat said.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz boasted he had grabbed 199,000 doses for Austria

instead of the 139,000 on offer.

“Chancellor Kurz has shown a lack of solidarity and abandoned” the five,

the diplomat said.

“He’s happy to write letters and drop his allies,” he added.

Slovenia takes over the EU presidency on July 1 and the behaviour of its

prime minister “sends a bad signal”, one ambassador said.

The 10 million doses are an advance delivery from BioNTech-Pfizer of an

order of 100 million doses scheduled for the third quarter of the year.

With a stuttering start to the EU’s vaccination campaign that has seen the

bloc lag behind the US, Britain and Israel, the European Commission on

Wednesday said the bloc will have received a total of 107 million doses of

coronavirus vaccine by the end of this week.

The total was revised down dramatically after the Anglo-Swedish pharma

giant AstraZeneca slashed the number it was providing.

Deliveries are expected to pick up considerably in the second quarter of

the year, with the commission saying it should receive at least 300 million

doses by the end of June.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen insists the 27 nations remain on course to

meet a target to inoculate 70 percent of adults “by the end of summer”.

Austria, which had led calls for a correction to the shareout mechanism

over fears of shortfalls, on Tuesday said it had become the latest EU country

to open talks with Russia about securing deliveries of its Sputnik V vaccine.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)