The vaccination rollouts started after Christmas but still there is no information about the actual number of vaccine doses to the member states.
In most countries the rollout has reportedly been slow which indicates that the hundreds of millions of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that the Commission ordered have not yet reached the member states. The idea was that the European Commission would sign contracts with vaccine producers on behalf of the member states after they had indicated how many doses they wanted.
In for example Belgium, the authorities are rapidly establishing vaccination centres that will target 70 % of the population by March but that is very much depending on the delivery of vaccines.
Apparently, it is not so easy for the Commission to keep track on the deliveries. For different reasons, the Commission does not have a precise overview of the ongoing deliveries, a spokesperson told The Brussels Times on Friday (15 January).
The practical arrangements of the deliveries of the vaccines are laid down in contracts concluded between the company and the member state, the spokesperson explained. “This is due to the fact that the delivery of the vaccines is closely linked to the organisation of the vaccination campaigns in the member states.”
According to the spokesperson, member states are best placed to agree with the company how many doses should be delivered when and where. “The Commission is not a party to these contracts between the company and the member states. The latter therefore have the updated information on the deliveries."
Furthermore, member states may decide to redistribute doses between themselves. If this has happened, is not known. “The starting point is always a prorate distribution on the basis of population, but some member states may wish more, others less. These discussions are held by the member states.” The redistribution of vaccine doses is also supposed to be on a pro-rata basis.
That said, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is working on a platform on the state of play of vaccinations, based on input from member states. This is expected to be operational next week, and will help monitoring the state of play. The new platform will show both the quantities of delivered vaccine doses to the member states and the actual use of them.
At a hearing earlier this week (12 January) in the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), the same question about vaccine quantities was asked to Sandra Gallina, director general of DG SANTE and chief negotiator for the Commission.
“The information should be made available to the public to enable an informed debate,” French MEP Pascal Canfin (Renew Europe), the chair of the committee, stressed in the beginning of the hearing.
Gallina did not provide the figures but assured the committee that the deliveries have started and that the vaccine doses are allocated on a strict pro rata basis but added that the distribution will get up to speed only in the second quarter when more vaccines will be available. She said that all countries have filled in the common order forms and that no parallel national orders were known to her.
The contracts between the Commission and the vaccine producers, which are confidential and until now have not been disclosed, started to become accessible this week. The Commission provided a reading room where the MEPS could have a look at one of the contracts during a few hours during the week. According to the contract negotiator, this was the beginning in increased transparency.
The Brussels Times