Covid-19 vaccines (representative image). Photograph:( Reuters )
The move by the two EU member states comes amid rising anger over delays in ordering, approving and distributing vaccines that have left the 27-member bloc trailing far behind Israel's world-beating vaccination campaign
Austria and Denmark, chafing at the slow rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in the European Union, have broken ranks with Brussels to form an alliance with Israel to produce second-generation vaccines against mutations of the coronavirus.
The move by the two EU member states comes amid rising anger over delays in ordering, approving and distributing vaccines that have left the 27-member bloc trailing far behind Israel's world-beating vaccination campaign.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said while the principle that the EU procures vaccines for member states was correct, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had been too slow to approve them and lambasted pharmaceutical companies' supply bottlenecks.
"We must therefore prepare for further mutations and should no longer be dependent only on the EU for the production of second-generation vaccines," the conservative chancellor said in a statement on Tuesday.
Danish Prime Minister Danish Mette Frederiksen was also critical of the EU's vaccine programme.
“I don’t think it can stand alone, because we need to increase capacity. That is why we are now fortunate to start a partnership with Israel," she told reporters on Monday.
When asked if Denmark and Austria wanted to take unilateral action in obtaining vaccines, Frederiksen said: “You can call it that.”
Kurz and Frederiksen are due to travel to Israel this week to see Israel's rapid vaccine roll-out up close.
A growing number of EU countries have placed side orders for doses of vaccines from Russia and China, even though the EMA is yet to rule on whether they are both safe and effective.
Slovakia on Monday ordered two million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine. It expects half to arrive this month as it looks to step up vaccinations amid a surge in Covid-19 infections and deaths.