EU countries agree on "solidarity vaccine" after distribution talks

Friday, 2021-04-02 13:05:30
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A woman receives the AstraZeneca vaccine at a hospital in Coria, Spain, on March 24, 2021. Spain restarted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday after a temporary suspension over fears of its relevance with blood clotting, as daily COVID-19 vaccination peaks record high in the country. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Five European Union (EU) member states will share nearly three million additional "solidarity vaccine" doses following an agreement with the majority of other members, the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU announced on Thursday.

After days of negotiations, EU ambassadors agreed to change a system that usually distributes vaccines between the bloc's 27 countries based on population size. The tweak was aimed at helping the member states that need more vaccines in their fight against the coronavirus.

The discussion came after EU leaders adopted a statement at their summit last week tasking the Committee of Permanent Representatives "to address the issue of the speed of delivery of vaccines when allocating the 10 million BioNTech-Pfizer accelerated doses in the second quarter of 2021 in a spirit of solidarity."

Following the talks, it was agreed that 2.85 million so-called "solidarity vaccine" doses will be shared between Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia.

Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovenia will receive their full pro-rata share after they refused to be part of the solidarity mechanism, while the other 19 member states will be sharing the remaining 6.66 million doses on a pro-rata basis.

Earlier in March, leaders from five states -- Bulgaria, Austria, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Slovenia -- called for an EU debate on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

In a letter to European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the five leaders underscored the significance of European solidarity, which guarantees that all EU members, big and small, will have equal access to limited resources such as the COVID-19 vaccines.

Xinhua