Vienna / Brussels (dpa) – Austria no longer wants to be dependent on the European Union for corona vaccines in the future. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Tuesday criticized the EU’s drug authority EMA being too slow to get approval and that there were supply bottlenecks for pharmaceutical manufacturers.
“So we must prepare for further mutations and no longer rely solely on the EU for the production of second-generation vaccines.” Kurz announced a close partnership with Denmark and Israel.
In Germany, too, the EU commission has been criticized for being responsible for the purchase of the corona vaccines and the quantities are initially insufficient. The vaccination campaign in the EU is much slower than in Israel or Great Britain, for example. But the committee on Tuesday downplayed the importance of the Austro-Danish initiative.
“I think there has always been strong support for the vaccination strategy, which is based on cooperation and coordination between Member States,” said a spokesman. The Commission has already taken the initiative to accelerate the development of vaccines against coronavirus variants. To this end, the EMA’s approval procedures should also be streamlined. But there is definitely an interest in learning from Austria, Denmark and Israel if this advances the vaccination strategy, the spokesman said.
Chancellor Kurz also indicated that his initiative has a more long-term initiative. It said in its statement that “they want to work with Israel in the coming years to produce second-generation vaccine doses for further mutations of the Covid virus and work together on treatment options.” Kurz wrote on Twitter that experts expected about six million Austrians to be vaccinated every year. “The pandemic will keep us busy with various mutations for a long time to come.”
The Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, said in parliament in Copenhagen on Tuesday that it is about how to significantly increase production capacity in view of the high and long-term need for vaccines. In concrete terms, this could also mean the joint construction of vaccine factories. She did not see cooperation with Israel as an interruption of cooperation in the EU. In the end, Israelis just got the furthest in their vaccination program, and Europe should learn from that.
Austria, Denmark and Israel had been in close consultation with Australia, Norway, Greece and the Czech Republic since the start of the corona pandemic. The heads of government were connected several times via video conference. Briefly referred to as the “First Mover Group”. Kurz and Frederiksen plan a trip to Netanyahu on Thursday.
After such a conversation in mid-January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested setting up a research network. “We must not be exposed to the forces of the market without protection,” the 71-year-old said after a message from his office. “We need to get together and start talking seriously about research and production and delivery, first for our countries and then for everyone else.”
For its successful and rapid anti-corona vaccination campaign, Israel has primarily obtained the vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer, which is developed in Germany and manufactured in Europe. According to EU data, vaccine factories in the European Union are currently supplying many other countries with vaccines, while little or nothing is exported from the US and Great Britain. The Austrian announcement also made it unclear how to speed up approvals in the future.