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The EU states argued on Thursday over how 10 million additional doses of coronavirus vaccine should be split between Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, which refuse to help five struggling countries.

Late in the day it was agreed to distribute nearly three million cans to “those most in need,” said Portugal, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

However, Austria, Slovenia and the Czechs insisted on receiving their full vaccine quota under the general population distribution system, a Presidency statement said.

A main group of 19 states, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, decided to show solidarity with Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia.

The five most in need now receive their full quota of 2,854,654 cans.

The large group will share 6.66 million vaccines.

Two days of talks between ambassadors did not convince Austria, Slovenia and the Czechs to help.

In the end, Prague lost 143,000 after rejecting a compromise, a European diplomat said.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz boasted that he had offered 199,000 cans for Austria instead of the 139,000.

“Chancellor Kurz showed a lack of solidarity and gave up,” said the diplomat.

“He likes to write letters and drop his allies,” he added.

Slovenia will take over the EU presidency on July 1st and the behavior of its prime minister “sends a bad signal,” said an ambassador.

The 10 million doses are a pre-shipment from BioNTech-Pfizer of 100 million doses planned for the third quarter of the year.

With a stuttering start to the EU vaccination campaign that saw the block lag behind the US, UK and Israel, the European Commission said Wednesday that the block will have received a total of 107 million doses of coronavirus vaccine by the end of this week.

The amount was cut dramatically after Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca cut the number it provided.

Deliveries are expected to pick up significantly in the second quarter of the year. The commission says it should receive at least 300 million doses by the end of June.

EU leader Ursula von der Leyen insists that the 27 nations stay on course to achieve the goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults “by the end of summer”.

Austria, which had called for a correction to the shareout mechanism over fears of deficits, said Tuesday it was the youngest EU country to start talks with Russia about securing delivery of its Sputnik-V vaccine.

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© 2021 AFP

Quote: EU dispute over 10 million doses of Pfizer vaccine (2021 April 1), accessed April 1, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-eu-squabbles-million-doses-pfizer. html

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