Vaccine: First jabs rolled out in Germany, Slovakia and Hungary
Politicians and public health officials in Italy were enraged when they discovered Germany had received 10 times the number of doses as Italy on the first day of the programme and have threatened a formal complaint. Spain, Sweden, Croatia, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia and others each received 9,750 doses.
The protests from Italy and other European countries reached the European Commission
Corriere Della Sera
But Germany, home to BioNTech which developed the vaccine with Pfizer, received 151,125 doses – almost 9,750 for each of the 16 German federal states.
Italian health ministry officials have played down the row and defended the EU’s jointly procured vaccination distribution plan, which administers doses on a pro-rata basis to the 27 member states based on their Eurostat population count.
Health undersecretary Sandra Zampa, called it an “absurd” controversy and insisted the EU member states use different vaccine providers with different delivery timings.
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Italy’s national Covid-19 commissioner Domenico Arcuri said BioNTech, which is based in Mainz, shipped vaccines directly to 25 German distribution centres, possibly outpacing shipments to elsewhere in Europe.
He said: “470,000 doses will soon be arriving in Italy.
“The 150,000 that were delivered in Germany are part of the next shipment that will arrive in our country.
“There is absolutely no discrimination.”
But Italian media remained unconvinced and felt Angela Merkel’s Germany was receiving preferential treatment from Brussels.
An editorial in the Corriere Della Sera daily newspaper said: “In a thriller that recalls the times of the Cold War there was a moment, yesterday morning, when we came one step away from the diplomatic incident – if not closer.
“The Italian government was thinking of formally protesting against Germany over the choice to buy 30 million doses of the anti-covid vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech.
“It was a decision that risked destroying the principle of solidarity between European countries, built with difficulty with centralised purchases by Brussels, to then be divided among the member states.
“A line always preached before the cameras but then often sacrificed at the first whiff of national interest.
“In the end, the incident did not materialise.
“But the protests from Italy, together with those of many other European countries, reached the European Commission.”
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German health ministry officials also pointed out Berlin had signed a separate deal for 30 million extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Italy has also struck separate deals for doses of the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines in hopes of inoculating 13 million residents by the end of March.
Italy reported 555 new coronavirus-related deaths yesterday, taking the death toll there to 74,159.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said Germany’s death toll rose by 553 to 33,624 yesterday.
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