File Photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
Five EU states — namely Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Latvia — have called for an EU summit to discuss 'huge disparities' in distribution of coronavirus vaccines
A few hours after Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz claimed that some European Union countries have "secret contracts" with coronavirus vaccine companies, five EU states have demanded a summit to discuss the accusation.
On Friday, Kurz claimed several of the European Union (EU) countries have developed secret contacts with vaccine companies through which they are receiving more doses of the coronavirus vaccines than they are entitled to receive, on the basis of the EU rules.
"There are clues that point to so-called bazaars where additional agreements between member states and pharmaceutical companies were made," Kurz said.
Now, according to a letter published on Saturday, five EU states — namely Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Latvia — have called for an EU summit to discuss "huge disparities" in the distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
Kurz, along with his four counterparts, sent a letter addressed to EU President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. Their letter claimed that "deliveries of vaccine doses by pharma companies to individual EU member states are not being implemented on an equal basis."
"If this system were to carry on, it would continue creating and exacerbating huge disparities among member states by this summer, whereby some would be able to reach herd immunity in a few weeks while others would lag far behind," the letter continued. "We therefore call on you... to hold a discussion on this important matter among leaders as soon as possible."
An EU spokesperson, however, subtly declined the claim saying it was up to the member states to "ask less or more of a given vaccine". Another EU official said that "the coordination in the fight against the pandemic" will be discussed on priority in the next summit, which is scheduled for March-end.
The Austrian health ministry has, also, dismissed Kurz's claims, backing the statement of the EU spokesperson that every member state has the responsibility of asking for the number of needed does of the coronavirus vaccines.
"These were very balanced and transparent negotiations," said Ines Stilling, general secretary of the Austrian health ministry, in an interview.