Five EU leaders complain about disparities in vaccine distribution

World Saturday 13/March/2021 16:16 PM
By: DW
Five EU leaders complain about disparities in vaccine distribution

Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Latvia have claimed that deliveries of vaccines to EU member states were not being carried out on an equal basis and called for a summit to discuss the matter.

In a letter to top EU officials published on Saturday, they said that the current system "would continue creating and exacerbating huge disparities among member states by this summer, whereby some would be able to reach herd immunity in a few weeks, while others would lag far behind.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz even suggested on Friday that some EU members might have signed secret contracts with vaccine companies so that they received more doses than stipulated under EU-wide agreements. He said the Netherlands and Denmark had access to many more doses per capita than Bulgaria or Croatia, for example.

Slow rollout

But Kurz's own Health Ministry has rejected the chancellor's claims, saying negotiations had been "very balanced and transparent." The EU says that the distribution of the vaccines takes place on a per-capita basis. An EU spokesman said that member states could "ask for less or more of a given vaccine" if desired, however.

Another EU official said on Saturday that "the coordination in the fight against the pandemic" had already been placed on the top of the agenda for the next summit, scheduled for the end of March.

The vaccination rollout in the EU has so far been sluggish in comparison with many other countries. Authorities have blamed the slow tempo on supply and delivery problems.