During the most acute phase of the pandemic, the European Commission and EU governments agreed to buy huge quantities of vaccines, mainly from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.
But as the pandemic dwindles in Europe and a sharp slowdown in vaccinations, many countries are now demanding that contracts be amended to reduce deliveries and, consequently, reduce vaccine spending, Reuters reports.
The issue was discussed at a meeting of EU health ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday.
Poland, the leading country in this attempt to revise contracts, has more than 30 million COVID vaccines in stock and should buy another 70 million under existing agreements, a Polish diplomat told Reuters, urging changes to to avoid waste.
Poland has a population of about 38 million, with about 60% of them fully vaccinated, not including booster shots – compared to more than 70% across the EU.
In a letter sent to the Commission in early June and consulted by Reuters, Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski, along with counterparts from Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania, called for a “reduction in the number of vaccines” ordered. .
They said that these contracts were agreed when it was impossible to predict how the pandemic would evolve, and now they should be changed as the situation improves.
“We are witnessing an excessive burden on the state budget, combined with the delivery of unnecessary quantities of vaccines,” the joint letter said, adding: “There is a high probability that the doses provided to the European Union will be eliminated.”
During a public meeting of Tuesday’s meeting of EU health ministers, Slovakia said it supported the letter. Other countries, including Cyprus and Malta, have called for caution, as pandemic conditions could change again.
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