The European Union must protect vaccine supply chains. Angela Merkel strongly rejects the idea of blocking or shunting vaccine exports to solve the problem of scarce supplies. And after a long, tense videoconference with the governors, the top ten pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, BioNTech, Curevac, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson, and the two European commissioners Stella Kyriakides and Thierry Breton, Merkel renewed their promise to offer a vaccine appointment by 21 September to all Germans.
Even if the vaccines don’t get the green light from Curevac and Johnson & Johnson. “Of course, if I’m 50 and not at risk, I’ll probably have to wait until summer,” Merkel explained, stressing that every German will have a date. The German Chancellor has confirmed her commitment to guarantee the vaccine to all its citizens by the end of the summer.
Angela Merkel had to admit that the bottlenecks in the coming weeks continue to be pitch black. And she did not rule out problems in the future too: “the pharmaceutical companies,” she admitted, “cannot give weekly commitments.” Production and supply problems may also exist in the future. However, even if Michael Mueller, mayor of Berlin, has specified that “in the first quarter the supplies will be scarce, then there will be enough supplies to proceed in big steps with the vaccinations.” Germany plans to make up for lost time starting in spring. Merkel announced that from the strategy, Germany will move on to a vaccination plan, which must be drawn up by 10 February.
The Chancellor defended in a press conference the length of the EU Commission’s negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, the agreement signed at the end of August, on which a storm has hit Brussels for days. But it is interesting a passage reported by a source present at the meeting. When Merkel asked pharmaceutical companies whether an order agreed earlier or at a higher price would change anything, the BioNTech rep replied that “with more money, you wouldn’t have gotten much, nor with previous orders.”
However, the nervousness about European procedures is enormous. The governor of Bavaria, Markus Soeder (CSU), at one point, in the five-hour meeting, allegedly attacked the EU commissioners Kyriakides and Breton. The EU executive members have continued to defend the alleged transparency in supplies and have argued that “vaccinations are proceeding according to plan.” At that point, Soeder blurted out: “It is very difficult for me to consider what I have just heard from the EU as positive and satisfying.”