Austria Holding Onto 500 Million Euros for Vaccine Doses

Austria still has a half billion euros to spend on vaccinations just as soon as the Alpine country can get its hands on enough doses, Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said in an interview with Matthew Miller and Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg TV.

With inoculations trailing expectations and the population on the verge of a third Covid-19 wave, nerves are fraying in the euro area’s seventh biggest economy. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz attacked European Union bureaucrats for running an opaque bazaar for vaccines last week and his own health minister Rudolf Anschober for failing to order more.

On Monday, Anschober retorted in a radio interview that just 200 million euros ($238 million) were budgeted in the autumn for jabs. Bluemel rejected that claim.

Austria Holding Onto 500 Million Euros for Vaccine Doses

“We have no cap on vaccination costs,” according to Bluemel, who said only 30 million euros has so far been used to buy the shots. Austria will spend “as much money as is necessary” and has about 500 million euros in a pot for Covid-related health spending that can be tapped for the vaccinations, he said.

The European Commission’s joint approach to negotiating vaccine deals with pharmaceutical companies was a “good one” whose outcome now has to be equitably distributed across the bloc, according to the Austrian official. Austria plans to submit its economic recovery plan to the EU by next month and expects funds to be distributed toward the end of the year, Bluemel said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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