Austria’s Kurz blasts Brussels for uneven supply of vaccine doses

Tensions over the European Union’s calamitous Covid vaccine roll-out have escalated yet again after Austria struck out at the EU for giving the alpine nation a lower share than other member states.

Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz said he had compared his country’s data with information supplied by fellow EU leaders and noticed higher numbers of doses making their way to Belgium, the Czech Republic, Greece, Slovenia and Poland. He slammed Brussels’ system for dishing out doses, comparing it to a foggy “bazaar”.

Speaking at a news conference in Vienna, Kurz said: “It is hard to get any information because of the secrecy clauses in the contracts,” adding that the lack of clarity only makes combatting “the biggest challenge of our generation” even more harder.

“That is not what heads of state and government have agreed,” said an angry Chancellor. “In this body, there was a bazaar for the vaccines.”

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Austria has received the exact average number of doses, amounting to 8.6% of the population. However, there are extreme outliers.

The EU has been given complete control over the procurement and distribution of vaccines. Member states are given doses in proportion to their population sizes. However, Kurz has crunched the numbers and discovered some EU countries are on course to get everyone vaccinated by May, while the likes of Latvia and Bulgaria are looking at the end of the summer. Malta has received three times as many doses as Bulgaria – 15.8% of the population compared to just 4.5%.

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Judging by the latest AstraZeneca update, all EU timelines are likely to be pushed back due to yet another crippling supply delay. A leaked document reveals AZ will deliver less than half the intended number of jabs in the second quarter of this year, 76 million out 180 million doses originally set for dispatch.

AstraZeneca blames the shortfall on problems with accessing vaccine components. In January, Brussels put in place controversial measure to monitor the flow of vaccines and their components in and out of Europe, which led to Canada’s delivery of the Moderna vaccine falling way short.