The move by the member states of the European Union is seen as a reprimand for the bloc’s sluggish joint vaccine procurement program.
Austria has separated from the European Union and announced that it will work with Israel and Denmark to produce second-generation vaccines against mutations of the coronavirus.
Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Tuesday that Austria and Denmark, as members of the First Mover Group founded by Kurz, would work with Israel on the production of vaccines against mutations of the coronavirus and would jointly look for treatment options.
The announcement rebukes the EU’s joint vaccine procurement program for member states, which has been criticized for being too slow to reach agreements with manufacturers.
Production problems and bottlenecks in the supply chain have also slowed shipments to the block and delayed the introduction of vaccines.
While the decision to allow the EU to source vaccines for member states was in principle correct, Kurz said the European Medicines Agency had been too slow to approve vaccines and lambasted supply shortages from pharmaceutical companies.
“We must therefore prepare for further mutations and should no longer rely solely on the EU to produce second generation vaccines,” he said in a statement.
Experts assume that Austria will have to vaccinate two thirds of the population annually in the coming years, which corresponds to more than six million people, said Kurz.
Kurz will travel to Israel this week with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to experience Israel’s rapid vaccine introduction first hand.
He said he would inspect domestically manufactured pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Novartis, Polymun and Boehringer Ingelheim and speak to leading scientists and doctors on Tuesday.
Germany set up a task force last month to remove bottlenecks in the vaccine production supply chain and boost local production to protect itself from future pandemics.