BRUSSELS (AP) – Austria և Denmark has further damaged the EU’s already fragile coronavirus vaccines by announcing plans to develop second-generation COVID-19 vaccines with Israel.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz plans to visit Israel this weekend with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, consult with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on vaccine research and production cooperation. Kurtz said on Tuesday that his country, Denmark, intends to stop relying solely on the European Union for coronavirus vaccines.
As part of its strategy, the EU has six contracts for more than 2 billion vaccines with Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech և CureVac. It is in talks with two other manufacturers, but so far only three vaccines have been approved for use in the bloc.
Due to production delays and the delivery of personnel, the distribution of vaccines in the 27 EU member states lags behind Israel և some other countries, including the United States և Britain.
According to the EU, almost 33 million doses of the vaccine have been given so far, but only 11 million Europeans have been fully vaccinated. Israel, with a population of 9.3 million, has vaccinated more than half of its population since late December.
In a statement to the Austrian press, Kurtz said it was in principle right to take a European approach to vaccines, but insisted that the European Medicines Agency, the EU’s regulator, was too slow to approve vaccines. ‘Delivery deficits.
“We must prepare for further mutations, otherwise we must not depend only on the production of second-generation vaccines from the EU,” he said.
Kurtz said that Austria, Denmark “will no longer rely on the EU”, together with Israel will produce doses of second-generation vaccines for further coronavirus mutations in the coming years, as well as explore joint treatment options, APA reports.
Asked whether the move would undermine the EU’s vaccine strategy, EU Commission spokesman Eric Mammer said all member states wanted to continue to be part of it.
“The fact is that none of the member states has in any way indicated that they want to receive fewer doses based on our EU vaccine strategy,” he said. “What some member states are looking at is how to prepare for the future. “We will continue our vaccine strategy just as we did in the past.”
Mamer added that with 27 member states, the “EU with a population of 450 million” faces “much greater challenges.”
“It’s not like you can take one model, just attach it to the European Union, and say, ‘That’s what you have to do,'” Mamer said, adding that each country has its own vaccine distribution strategy.
The Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, has stated that he does not consider the plan to join forces with Israel to be a violation of European (vaccine) cooperation.
“I think we are the best in European cooperation in the field of vaccines,” he said.
The EU has collectively provided doses of vaccines for its member states, but members may also decide to negotiate separately as long as they do not compete with the pre-purchase agreement concluded by the EU executive.
A number of member states have openly criticized the EU for its slow spread, discussed the use of vaccines developed in China and Russia, although they have not been approved by the European Medicines Agency. On Sunday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was hit by Sinopharm after he recently said he trusted the Chinese vaccine the most.
In a Twitter post, Kurtz praised EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for her role in securing vaccine doses for the entire bloc. “But now we must prepare in time for further dangerous mutations in COVID-19,” he wrote. Kurtz added that experts expect 6 million Austrians to be vaccinated annually.
Mulson reports from Berlin. In Copenhagen, Jan M. Olsen contributed.
Follow the AP coverage of the virus outbreak: