Der Spiegel, the German newspaper, has reported that tensions are growing within the EU over the EU vaccine programme over the percentage of vaccines that are set to be given to Germany. The programme saw the European Commission source vaccines for all member states, and these vaccines are meant to be distributed to each EU country based on the percentage of the EU’s total population within each country. Germany, however, appears to be receiving more of certain vaccines than its population would give it a right to.
Germany, with a population of 83 million, should rightfully receive 18.6% of all vaccine doses acquired by the Commission. This means they should receive 29.8 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, and another 18.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Instead, Germany is set to receive 50.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, nearly 60% above what they should receive, and 25 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
The Commission’s attempts to source, and distribute vaccines, have been dogged by claims that political infighting and protectionism undermined its ability to protect the health of European citizens. Whilst on paper the EU has acquired roughly 2 billion doses of vaccines it remains unclear when those vaccines will also be produced and delivered to EU countries, with at least hundreds of millions of doses not expected to be delivered until the end of 2021. It appears the EU bought certain vaccines based on their country of origin, rather than on the likelihood of the vaccine working, although the EU has forcefully denied this.
The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), a political group in the European Parliament, is now calling for the Commission to be “held accountable “ for the “unmitigated disaster.”
Der Spiegel itself states that “the EU strategy adopted in June has proven to be a failure…relatively small quantities have been agreed with the manufacturers of the most promising vaccines.” This state of affairs, they say, has led to “chaos”, an “Eu-wide shortage situation”, and to disputes amongst EU members “about the little that is to be distributed.”
Ursula von der Leyens, President of the European Commission, has claimed that EU countries are legally prohibited from sourcing additional vaccines, however an unnamed EU diplomat told Politico that the agreement not to source additional vaccines was not actually legally binding but rather “more of a gentleman’s agreement.’ Germany has privately acquired an additional 30 million doses of the Pfizer vaccines, and an additional 20 million doses of the Curevac vaccine. France has also privately acquired additional vaccines.