Poland will not take or pay for more doses of COVID-19 vaccine under the European Union’s supply contract, according to Poland’s health minister, with the refusal likely setting the stage for a legal battle with the pharmaceutical giant.
Poland’s Health Minister Adam Niedzielski has in fact admitted that a legal dispute is likely to ensue as a result of Poland’s refusal to purchase more vaccines under the European Commission common purchase arrangements.
Niedzielski reported that Poland had managed to give away or sell 30 million doses which were surplus to requirements, adding the country has 25 million doses in storage and another 67 to 70 million doses on order.
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Poland has asked for the delivery of doses to be staggered over time and to pay for them on delivery but that request has so far been refused by both the European Commission and Pfizer, according to the government minister.
The contracts are a substantial burden on the budget, which Poland does not want to pay up front, especially given the additional costs the country is now facing during the refugee crisis as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Poland has been demanding assistance from the European Commission for coping with the refugee crisis in the health and other sectors without success.
Minister Niedzielski has said that Poland was using the force majeure clause of the contract with both the Commission and Pfizer in order to stop further deliveries and payments of the vaccine. Such a clause enables a party to repudiate its contractual obligations when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties has occurred.
Pfizer is the first such company where Poland is attempting to use the force majeure clause, but the country will reportedly be talking to other producers of the vaccine soon.