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EU vaccine solidarity splinters as nations break from joint scheme

Austria and Denmark among member states negotiating separate deals to accelerate Covid jab rollouts

Austria and Denmark have dealt a fresh blow to the EU’s ailing joint vaccine procurement scheme by agreeing to partner with Israel to get extra doses of Covid jabs.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told German tabloid Bild yesterday that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) was being “too slow” to approve vaccines and that his nation “should no longer be dependent only on the EU” for jabs.

According to Politico’s Brussels Playbook, Kurz and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen are to “seal a vaccination deal with Israel at a meeting with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.

In a further splinting of EU vaccine solidarity, Poland is asking China for vaccines.

 And Slovakia has ordered two million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which is yet to be approved for use by the EMA. The decision has proved controversial, however, with Slovakian parliament member Tomas Valasek quitting the government coalition over the plan to order doses from Moscow.

The bloc’s procurement scheme was further undermined on Sunday when Hungarian PM Viktor Orban posted a photo on social media showing himself being inoculated with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, which has also not been approved by the EMA.

Meanwhile, European countries left with a shortage of vaccine doses by the EU’s stuttering procurement process are reportedly turning to the “grey market” in their search for more jabs.

Indeed, EU nations are beginning to take “pitches from around the world at often exorbitant prices”, says The New York Times. Sellers offering millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines “have approached EU governments”, the paper reports, and “some nations are also trying to negotiate directly with drug makers and eyeing the murky open market where they are still unsure of the sellers and the products”.

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