The Portuguese Presidency has proposed a plan to distribute three million doses out of ten million among the five most affected countries. Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Austria opposed this, while the other Member States agreed with the solidarity plan. Due to not agreeing with the plan, Slovenia will receive more vaccines, which could have a favourable effect on the future reopening of the country and, consequentially, on the economy. “I do not understand why an MEP from Slovenia would advocate for Slovenia to give up 14 thousand doses of the vaccine, to benefit others in the EU, in the middle of the 3rd wave of the coronavirus,” former Minister of Economy, Matej Lahovnik, Ph.D., explained to MEP Klemen Grošelj. After a short review, we found that the solidarity plan also included countries that are doing better than Slovenia in terms of vaccinations and the number of infections.
On Thursday, the Committee of Permanent Representatives of Member States to the European Union discussed a proposal to distribute an additional ten million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which have been moved up from the second half of the year to the second quarter. The Portuguese Presidency has proposed that around ten million additional doses of Pfizer be distributed through the solidarity mechanism, in which case the additional three million vaccine doses would be distributed among each of the Member States most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Croatia, Bulgaria, Latvia and Slovakia were included in the set, and in this case, the Czech Republic would also receive a few additional doses.
As reported by 24ur, the remaining seven million doses would then be distributed according to an already-existing pro rata agreement. Slovenia would thus receive 32,769 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine but would not receive any additional doses, as its share of the pro rata would be calculated from seven, not ten million. According to our calculations, Slovenia would lose 14 thousand doses of the vaccine at the expense of solidarity. Most Member States agreed with the Portuguese Presidency’s proposal, but as Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced a few days ago, he himself did not agree with the plan. Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš also joined the Austrian Chancellor’s opposition. “The Czech Republic is currently most affected, out of all Member States. Just look at the EU data. The countries that did not order the much cheaper Astra Zeneca and will be able to achieve over 60 or even 80 percent vaccination rate by June, are the ones who passed the opportunity for greater solidarity, and not the Czech Republic, Slovenia or Austria,” Prime Minister Janez Janša explained on Twitter.
Kurz and Janša insisted that all ten million doses be distributed according to the pro rata system, as both countries would receive more doses than if the remaining three million intended for the most affected countries were given up; however, the remaining countries agreed with the Portuguese Presidency’s solidarity plan. Slovenia, Austria and the Czech Republic, which have refused to participate in the solidarity mechanism, will therefore receive their pro rata share of the ten million doses of the vaccine. Everything else will be distributed according to the mentioned solidarity mechanism. Three million doses will be distributed among the five most affected countries, and 19 Member States (which have agreed to the plan) will divide 6.66 million doses of the vaccine among themselves on the pro rata basis. The Czech Republic, which wanted to stick to the originally agreed-upon plan, thus gave up the 140 thousand additional doses of the vaccine it would have received under the new plan, as it would be eligible for additional aid, as already mentioned. The Czech Prime Minister was said to be convinced that the Austrian Chancellor’s feat would be successful, and that is why he joined him.
Slovenia and Austria will receive a larger share of the vaccine as originally agreed upon
Slovenia and Austria will therefore receive a share of the vaccine according to the pro rata system applied for the ten million doses. As a result, both countries will receive more doses of Pfizer than they would according to the Portuguese Presidency’s plan. Prime Minister Janez Janša responded to the matter on social networks and wrote that the solution was acceptable for Slovenia and Austria but not for the Czech Republic, which is currently very affected. “We were persistent precisely because of the Czech Republic. We would have to distribute at least five million out of the ten million doses in solidarity, as tentatively agreed on Thursday, to cover everyone, including the Czech Republic.
Given that the situation with the epidemic and its impact on the economy is difficult everywhere, it is to be expected that all countries would like to get rid of the coronavirus crisis as soon as possible. Slovenia and Austria were the most persistent in this case, and the Czech Republic is also clearly convinced that vaccines are not being distributed fairly, despite their difficult situation. The latter has been quite critical of the vaccine distribution plan in the past already and has embarked on talks with Israel and Denmark to develop its own vaccine. Former Minister of the Economy Matej Lahovnik was also quite critical of the solidarity plan, pointing out that we are in the middle of the third wave of the epidemic. “I do not understand why a Member of the European Parliament from Slovenia would advocate for Slovenia to give up 14 thousand doses of the vaccine to benefit others in the EU, in the middle of the 3rd wave of the coronavirus,” he explained. It is also interesting that the same people who have been critical of our government in the past, saying that it did not order additional doses of the vaccine, even though the order was optional, and it was not even known whether or not it would have been delivered, are now once again critical of Janša.
It is also interesting to note that according to the solidarity plan, the EU would provide even more doses of the vaccine to Slovakia, which has already vaccinated more people than Slovenia and Austria, and all three countries are above the EU average. On the other hand, we also have countries that did not implement the vaccination plan so well, such as Croatia and the Czech Republic, while Latvia and Bulgaria also did quite bad.
If we compare the data on the vaccination rates with the number of new cases, we can see that some countries that would receive more vaccines according to the solidarity plan have a much better epidemiological picture than, for example, Slovenia. Croatia, Latvia and Slovenia have fewer infections than Slovenia but would receive more vaccines. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria have a slightly higher number of infections than we do. In any case, the situation in a particular country can quickly change, and the trend of the number of infections can quickly turn upwards again.