Malta rejects allegations of secret vaccine procurement

Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz Shares criticism: Some EU member states are said to have broken agreements and negotiated directly with vaccine manufacturers. Malta is now reacting.

Malta has denied allegations that it ignored the agreements within the European Union and secretly provided extra doses of vaccine against the coronavirus. Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Friday in the capital Valletta that the vaccines had been obtained through the mechanism that all EU member states and the EU Commission had agreed to.

The country responded to accusations by Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Kurz had denounced an unequal distribution of corona vaccines in the EU.

In an EU health committee, there may have been side agreements between individual member states and pharmaceutical companies, he said on Friday at a press conference in Vienna. The ÖVP politician spoke of indications that there had been a “bazaar” on vaccines in the body.

Malta's Health Minister Chris Fearne: His country has kept to the agreements with other EU countries, he says.  (Source: imago images / Jonathan Borg / Xinhua)Malta’s Health Minister Chris Fearne: His country has kept to the agreements with other EU countries, he says. (Source: Jonathan Borg / Xinhua / imago images)

Criticism: allegedly no longer distribution according to population key

The side agreements have resulted in an imbalance in the distribution of vaccine quantities in Europe, Kurz complained. Contrary to what the EU heads of state and government decided, the deliveries were no longer made according to the population key.

As an example, Kurz cited Malta, which will receive around three times as many vaccine doses as Bulgaria by summer in relation to the population. In relation to the population, the Netherlands would receive more doses than Germany and twice as many as Croatia by the end of June. Austria is in the middle of the field.

Malta is progressing faster than other EU countries in the vaccination campaign. Of the approximately 500,000 inhabitants of the Mediterranean island, almost 20 percent received at least one vaccination by Friday.

Kurz calls for more transparency

Many member states were surprised by the unequal distribution, said Kurz. He called for more transparency about the non-public contracts of individual EU member states with pharmaceutical companies. It must be found out who signed the contracts, said Kurz.

A spokesman for the EU Commission defended certain deviations from the originally defined population key. Member States could decide whether to require more or less amounts of a particular vaccine, said Commission spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker. All EU member states will then be consulted about this. In this context, a new distribution key is then also possible.

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