By: V4 Agency
Angela Merkel may have personally intervened to block efforts by the member states’ health ministers to secure bigger vaccine supplies, a leaked letter suggests. Ms Merkel’s motive was to hand over control to the EU in the “spirit of solidarity.
The shortage of vaccines has become a new symbol of European solidarity. According to Bild, a German tabloid newspaper, a leaked letter suggests that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has blocked several EU health ministers from ordering sufficient vaccine supplies in that spirit.
The letter received by Bild was signed by the health ministers of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. They addressed their letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, saying they were ready to withdraw from their own initiative, because they thought it was “of utmost importance to develop a common single and joint approach towards the various pharmaceutical companies.” They added that “speed is of the essence in this case. So we deem it very useful if the COM [Commission] takes the lead in this process.”
According to information obtained by Bild, German Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn made the decision after Chancellor Merkel had personally intervened, suggesting that the European Commission should be given the remit to procure vaccines in order to promote solidarity.
Ms Merkel’s action has sparked outrage, especially because the EU had failed to procure sufficient quantities of the vaccine from the Pfizer-BioNtech production lines, even though it was developed in Germany and is being manufactured in Belgium. Europe has clearly fallen behind in the race for the vaccine since control was handed over to the Commission. The four ministers had already signed a contract to secure 400 million doses of Astra-Zeneca’s vaccine in early June, but after the EC took over the process, negotiations have slowed down and the vaccine has not been approved to date.