Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz has threatened to block an upcoming delivery of 100 million doses of Pfizer vaccine to the European Union unless his country receives a larger share.
The case comes after the European Council reaffirmed the principle of pro-rata distribution in a statement issued after the summit but also decided to delegate the task of distributing the 10 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine scheduled for the second quarter of 2021 to the Permanent Representatives Committee.
Thus, the ambassadors in Brussels will discuss the distribution of the 10 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines that will arrive by June 30, giving countries the opportunity to renegotiate the distribution rates.
The agenda may be to allow more vaccines to arrive in countries where the third wave of the epidemic is more severe and which are not doing very well with the vaccination campaign, such as Bulgaria or Lithuania.
Dissatisfied with this development, Kurz has threatened his EU colleagues that Austria will veto the EU option on 100 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine if his country does not receive more vaccines than before, according to a report from Politico.
In addition to the veto threat, Kurz reiterated his previous position that vaccine shipments are not distributed fairly in the EU. Under a contract with Pfizer, the European Commission will have to notify the manufacturer by mid-April if it needs another 100 million in addition to the 400 million doses of vaccine already ordered.
Austria is not the only country unsatisfied with an allegedly unfair distribution of vaccines, with Czechia, Slovenia, Latvia, and Bulgaria also voicing concerns.
Meanwhile, Austria is also negotiating with Russia to ship a million doses of Sputnik V vaccine.
“What matters is not where the vaccine comes from, but how safe and effective it is,” Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said after negotiations with the Russian Investment Fund for the International Distribution of the Russian Vaccine (RDIF).
The Austrian chancellor has therefore begun talks with Israel and Denmark, and now it looks like Kurz will open up to Russia as well. According to Austrian newspaper Kurier, negotiations are in progress, with Russia expected to deliver 300,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine to Austria in April, 500,000 in May and 200,000 in June, for a total of one million. The Austrian Chancellor stated earlier that he was ready to take the Chinese Sinopharm or the Sputnik V vaccine himself.
Title image: Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz.