Officials in some EU states say the bloc is forcing them to foot the bill for millions of unused vaccine doses
Pfizer has offered to extend its Covid-19 vaccine contract with the European Union as it cuts deliveries, but still expects the bloc to pay billions of euros for unused doses amid a huge glut of supply in some countries, the Financial Times reported. The offer sparked outrage from a handful of member states, which say the deal would serve the interests of Big Pharma over their own citizens.
The contract extension would push the vaccine deal through 2026, with a proposed 40 percent reduction in the number of doses supplied, as well as delays in deliveries, the Times reported Tuesday, citing two unnamed officials.
However, despite the suggested cuts, the US pharmaceutical giant is still insisting on being paid the full number of doses initially agreed, many of which would never be produced under the new terms.
Pfizer shares plummeted along with demand for Covid drugs
Amendments to the deal, the full text of which has never been made public, were presented by European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides during a closed-door meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, but faced objections from some EU members.
In a joint statement issued after the meeting, officials from Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania and Poland said they would not sign the agreement with the proposed changes, as they “do not present a definitive and fair solution to the problems of the measles vaccine. Covid-19″. surpluses and do not meet the needs of health systems, the needs of citizens and the financial interests of member states”.
Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski argued that Pfizer’s current proposal would favor big pharma and called for the secret contract to be made public, questioning the role played by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in the negotiations for the massive vaccine deal.
An EU watchdog launched an investigation into the deal and takeover process late last year after von der Leyen’s office failed to produce personal text messages sent to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, during talks to obtain almost 2 billion doses of vaccines, which led to accusations of corruption.
EU chief can’t find Pfizer CEO’s texts
The 27-member bloc originally signed a joint contract with Pfizer in 2020, but since the pandemic receded demand for vaccines has steadily fallen, leaving a continent-wide oversupply. Some countries have been forced to throw away vaccines, with Germany alone throwing away some 36.6 million doses, according to public broadcaster BR24, while others are sitting on large stocks of unused vaccines, such as Austria, which has reported of about 17.5 million in its supply. .
However, Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Valek dismissed the criticism, arguing that “the majority of countries” had accepted the agreement and that “the contract is not bad”. He added that the large stock of doses would not be a problem, as “Covid is still here” and “it will be necessary to repeat the vaccination every year for a specific group of patients”.