Austria breaks rank with EU to manufacture vaccines with Denmark and Israel | News on the coronavirus pandemic
The move by EU member states is seen as a rebuke to the bloc’s joint vaccine supply program.
Austria has broken ranks with the European Union and said it will work with Israel and Denmark to produce second-generation vaccines against coronavirus mutations.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Tuesday that Austria and Denmark, as members of the First Mover Group founded by Kurz, would work with Israel on the production of vaccines against the coronavirus mutations and jointly research treatment options.
The announcement is a rebuke to the EU’s joint vaccine procurement program for member states, which has been criticized for being slow in reaching deals with manufacturers.
Production issues and supply chain bottlenecks have also slowed deliveries to the block, delaying vaccine deployment.
While the decision to allow the EU to buy vaccines for member states was correct in principle, Kurz said the European Medicines Agency had been too slow to approve vaccines and lambasted the bottlenecks of suppliers of pharmaceutical products.
“We must therefore prepare for new mutations and no longer depend solely on the EU for the production of second generation vaccines,” he said in a statement.
Experts believe Austria will need to vaccinate two-thirds of the population, or more than six million people, each year in the coming years, Kurz said.
Kurz is due to travel to Israel this week with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to see the rapid deployment of the Israeli vaccine up close.
He said he would inspect pharmaceutical companies with domestic production, including Pfizer, Novartis, Polymun and Boehringer Ingelheim, and speak to leading scientists and doctors on Tuesday.
Last month, Germany set up a task force to tackle bottlenecks in the vaccine production supply chain and boost local manufacturing to protect against future pandemics.