Baltic Member States Call on EU to Redistribute Unused Vaccines
(Bloomberg) -- The three Baltic nations of the European Union called on the bloc to redistribute unused vaccines among member states to increase the inoculation rate and to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“It is important to consider improving the efficiency of our joint vaccination efforts and to further foster solidarity between the member states by introducing a re-distribution mechanism,” the health ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia wrote in a March 9 letter to the EU’s health chief, Stella Kyriakides.
The ministers cited situations in which “an unused surplus of delivered vaccines accumulates” in countries and the viability of the shots becomes jeopardized because of expiration concerns, according to the letter, which was 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 9.4 shots per 100 people, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker. That compares with more than 27 doses in the U.S. and more than 35 in the U.K.
Also, some doses are being left unused as people are concerned about side effects of the vaccines. So far, 72% of the 53.5 million shots delivered to EU member states have been used, according to data compiled by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
The Baltic calls come after the EU earlier this month redirected vaccine deliveries to Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia when those countries faced shortfalls. The bloc now allocates the shots on a pro rata population basis for the 27 member states.
“We call on the European Commission to act proactively to set up a mechanism for the extraordinary circumstances that might justify exceptions to the pro rata distribution and temporarily advance the delivery to the member states in most urgent need,” according to the letter.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.