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Poland, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Hungary reject excess COVID-19 vaccines

The health ministers of Poland, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and the interior minister of Hungary issued a joint statement on Tuesday demanding that the European Commission seriously renegotiate the contract for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines. “We do not agree to supplies that exceed the needs of the Member States and the Member States do not want,” the document states.

According to the ministers “the needs, specifics, and budgetary capacities of all Member States” included in the proposed fifth Amendment to the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine agreement “do not present a final and fair solution to the problems of COVID-19 vaccine surplus and do not meet the needs of the healthcare systems, the needs of citizens and the financial interests of the Member states.”

Common statement of PL, BG, LT and HU againts no compromised proposals from Pfizer. The company is not supporting for any changes in the name of Public Health- that is why we present strong negative position on last annex to C19 contract

— Adam Niedzielski (@a_niedzielski) March 14, 2023

“We appeal to the European Commission and Pfizer to prepare solutions that will provide a real response to national health needs and will be beneficial for national healthcare systems of all Member States. No one should be left behind,” the ministers wrote.

The Polish, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, and Hungarian ministers proposed some solutions to the issue including seeking further negotiations with Pfizer “particularly on non-delivery payments”, “reducing the number of contracted doses”, or the European Commission buying the surplus of vaccines from Member States and donating those doses to regions in need.

Moreover, the statement mentioned “the absence of regulatory clarity regarding the continued use of further boosters” as well as the proposed “flexibility fee” being a “disproportionate financial burden” and posing “legal issues”.

OtherMember states and Pfizer

The ministers also pointed out their awareness “that there are Member states willing to take all planned doses”.

We fully respect the needs and interests of countries wishing to accede to the proposed fifth Amendment. Our opposition to accession is not meant to adversely affect these countries,” they stated in their joint statement.

The ministers also called on Pfizer “o maintain confidence in the vaccination process, to assume its responsibility towards EU citizens and Member states, and act in good faith towards a solution, fair to all: in the name of the common good, not only business interest.”

Health Ministers Asen Medzhidiev of Bulgaria, Adam Niedzielski of Poland, Arunas Dulkys of Lithuania, and Hungary’s Interior Minister Sándor Pintér are currently attending the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in Brussels.

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