These three countries, which demanded more vaccines for themselves, even though the data show that they are not among the most needy, refused to do without their doses, following the distribution key that has been used – due to the population – and therefore do not participate in the solidarity distribution agreed by all the others, with a view to helping Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia and Croatia, the five Member States most effectively in need of vaccines.
Portugal is one of the 19 Member States that at this stage will then receive fewer doses than they would be entitled to if the ‘pro rata’ distribution key were applied to this batch of 10 million that Pfizer agreed with Brussels to deliver earlier than the then, receiving 160 thousand doses in the second quarter (additional to those already provided for in the first contract), when it would be close to 230 thousand.
On March 16, the European Commission announced that it had reached an agreement with BioNTech-Pfizer for the early delivery, in the second quarter, of 10 million doses of the vaccine against covid-19, of the batch of 100 million with delivery scheduled for the third and fourth quarters.
The early delivery of these 10 million additional doses thus raises the total doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, which should be distributed by Member States between this month and June to 200 million, taking into account the deliveries already provided for under the first contract between Brussels and the German and American pharmaceutical companies.
That same day, six Member States – Austria, Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Latvia and the Czech Republic – asked the European Commission to create a mechanism to correct what they classified as an “unfair distribution of vaccines” against covid-19, in a letter addressed directly to the president of the community executive, Ursula von der Leyen.
However, and in the absence of an agreement at the level of the steering committee chaired by the Commission, the task of negotiating the distribution of these 10 million doses was entrusted to the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU, since, meeting on 25 March, at a European Council by videoconference, the heads of state and government gave a mandate to that effect to the Permanent Representatives Committee, which brings together the ambassadors of the 27 member states and is chaired this semester by diplomat Nuno Brito.
“We confirm the ‘pro rata’ population key for the allocation of vaccines. We invite the Permanent Representatives Committee to address the issue of speedy vaccine deliveries when allocating, in a spirit of solidarity, the 10 million doses of BioNTech-Pfizer anticipated for the second quarter of 2021, ”reads the summit conclusions.
The Portuguese Presidency then started working on this dossier, having submitted a proposal on Wednesday morning that, out of this batch of 10 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer, 7 million were allocated to the 27 Member States following the distribution key. proportional to the population adopted from the start, but the remaining 3 million were distributed among the five Member States with the most vaccine shortages and the most delayed vaccination campaigns: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia and Croatia.
However, the trio formed by Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovenia opposed this solution, and the Portuguese presidency today put on the table an alternative proposal that leaves out of the solidarity mechanism Vienna, Prague and Ljubljana – which will continue to receive their share of doses according to the ‘pro rata’ key – but guarantees that the five countries most in need will receive close to 2.9 million “solidarity vaccines”.
Diplomatic sources told Lusa that the Czech delegation still tried to legally block this solution – which would force all 10 million doses to be distributed according to the ‘normal’ distribution key, depending on the population of each country – but , since it was not affected in the final distribution, since it continued to receive the doses to which it would be entitled, it was not legally able to stop this commitment, already welcomed by the Prime Minister, António Costa.
“I welcome the agreement reached today for the joint sharing of vaccines between the Member States of the European Union, which makes it possible to vaccinate at least 45% of the population in all by the end of June,” wrote António Costa in his personal network account social Twitter.
According to a table that circulated at today’s meeting of ambassadors, to which Lusa had access, on the forecast of the percentage of the population in each Member State that will be vaccinated by the end of the second quarter with confirmed vaccine orders, Portugal will have 57% of the population vaccinated at the end of June, while Bulgaria, a major beneficiary of the solidarity distribution agreed today, with more than 1 million supplementary vaccines from Pfizer this quarter, will reach 45.01%, the minimum goal set.
The countries with the largest proportion of the vaccinated population will be, according to these calculations, and prominently, Malta, with 93.10%, and Denmark, with 79.88%.
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