Smaller EU States Protest ‘Uneven’ Vaccine Distribution
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his colleagues from the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Latvia and Croatia are demanding a European Union summit on what they claim is uneven distribution of vaccines in the bloc.
Their demand, set out in a letter to EU Council President Charles Michel, comes after Kurz complained Friday that some countries get more than others and that there’s an opaque “bazaar” for doses.
The EU and countries including Germany rebuffed Kurz and said the distribution is running as designed among member states to increase the inoculation rate and to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
An EU official confirmed Michel had received the letter from the leaders of the six nations. Michel, who chairs EU leaders’ meetings, has already convened a summit for March 25 and 26, during which Covid-19 coordination will also be discussed, the official said.
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The bloc’s efforts to inoculate 70% of its adult population by the end of the summer have been hampered by vaccine supply issues and a relatively slow rollout of shots. AstraZeneca Plc will supply less than half the planned number of Covid-19 vaccines to the bloc in the second quarter after the company’s efforts to remedy a slew of problems ran into further trouble, according to data based on delivery projections for one member state seen by Bloomberg.
EU countries are behind in the race to vaccinate as many people as possible, and faster-spreading variants of the virus are gaining a stronger foothold on the continent. The bloc so far has given 10.6 shots per 100 people, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker. That compares with more than 30.5 doses in the U.S. and more than 37 in the U.K.
The European Commission said in a statement Saturday that it “has followed a transparent process” in determining the allocation of vaccines, but EU nations departed from its proposal by adding flexibility to allow a different distribution.
It added that it agrees with recent statements by several EU member-nations that the most equitable solution for the allocation of doses is proportionately based on the population of each country.
“It is a fair solution as the virus strikes equally everywhere, in all parts of the EU.”
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