• By The Financial District

EU LEADERS WARN OF ‘HUGE DISPARITIES’ IN VACCINE DISTRIBUTION

Leaders of six European Union (EU) countries called on Saturday for high-level talks on the equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccine doses, saying the current system would create "huge disparities" among member-states by summer, Albert Otti and Ella Joyner reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).

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The leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, and Slovenia said in a letter to EU officials that the current system "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." Croatia also joined the initiative later on Saturday.


The letter addressed to EU Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, called on EU officials "to hold a discussion on this important matter among leaders as soon as possible.


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According to the bloc's vaccine strategy, all EU countries get access to approved shots at the same time, with the distribution of available doses linked to population size. But Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Friday that doses were not being handed out proportionally among EU member-states, as additional supply contracts were being agreed as the result of non-transparent negotiations in an EU steering group.


According to Kurz, Denmark and the Netherlands have access to significantly more vaccine doses per capita than countries like Bulgaria or Croatia. The European Commission negotiated vaccine supply contracts with pharmaceutical companies on behalf of the 27 member states, which could opt-in or out of each pre-order and choose how many doses to buy.



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