Germany defies EU Commission to snap up extra vaccines

Germany has been accused of ignoring the European Commission’s instructions to member states by negotiating COVID-19 vaccine procurement with manufacturers separately from the EU executive.

Reuters reports that an anonymous German ministry official confirmed his country had agreed a deal last September with BioNTech for 30 million additional doses of the vaccine the German biotech company had created with U.S pharma giant, Pfizer.

The news agency claims that this deal was agreed some two months before the European Commission had concluded negotiations with the companies for procurement on behalf of the EU27.

Under the EU’s principle of solidarity, member states are forbidden from negotiating the procurement of coronavirus vaccinations at a national level, with the EU executive tasked with the job of obtaining the shots needed to loosen the virus’ grip on the continent.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, told reporters in Brussels on Friday: “The only framework we are negotiating in is as 27. We do this together, and no member state on this legal-binding basis is allowed to negotiate in parallel or to have a contract in parallel.”

The European Commission has now secured 600 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine but has regularly been accused of dragging its heels.

“It is difficult to explain that a very good vaccine is developed in Germany but is vaccinated more quickly elsewhere,” Markus Söder, the leader of the German region of Bavaria said at the weekend.

And he wasn’t the only one scratching his head with the chief executive of BioNTech, Uğur Şahin, being equally critical of the slow progress: “The process in Europe certainly wasn’t as fast and straightforward as in other countries.”

Meanwhile, Brexit Britain has vaccinated more than the whole of Europe combined, a fact that clearly delighted prime minister Boris Johnson when raising it in the Commons on Wednesday.

No wonder Germany has broken ranks…

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