AUSTRIA OFFERS VACCINE DOSES TO CZECH REPUBLIC
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Friday his government has offered to send the Czech Republic 30,000 vaccine doses to help stem a surging number of infections there, Matthias Roeder and Michael Heitmann reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
As the chancellor extended aid to the neighboring EU country, Kurz also took the opportunity to repeat his criticism of the 27-member bloc's vaccine distribution system.
Even though the Czech Republic is currently struggling through one of the worst outbreaks on the continent, Kurz said the European Union (EU) had not done enough to offer the country additional vaccine doses.
"If there is too little vaccination progress in some countries, then the result is bad for everyone, because we can only defeat the pandemic together," he said.
On Thursday, the 27 members failed to agree on redistributing extra vaccine doses after several members - the Czech Republic among them - claimed they were treated unfairly and not being helped enough. In principle, the EU states had agreed months ago on proportional and simultaneous deliveries based on population.
But several EU members who feel especially strained by the pandemic asked to have 10 million recently acquired extra doses from BioNTech/Pfizer redistributed in their favor.
The negotiators from the 27 countries could not agree to a unified position on how the 10 million doses would be distributed.
Three countries - Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic - were so upset they splintered off from the rest and will only receive their share according to existing pro-rata calculations.
The Austrian chancellor said his country was not taking part out of solidarity with the Czech Republic, which deserved far more of the extra vaccine doses than was being offered in the proposal.