Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Europe

Poland reneges on coronavirus vaccine contracts

Poland has unilaterally pulled out of its contractual commitments to buy the BioNTech/Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said Tuesday, citing oversupply and financial strains caused by the influx of millions of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Speaking on all-news channel TVN24, Niedzielski said that the government in Warsaw had informed the European Commission and the vaccine suppliers late last week that it was invoking a force majeure clause in the procurement contract and would refuse both to pay for, or take delivery of, further doses.

Niedzielski explained that the improving pandemic situation meant that there was less need for vaccines. The Ukrainian refugee crisis, meanwhile, had stretched the public finances.

He added that the government had tried to reach a compromise, asking for deliveries to be staggered over the course of 10 years, but “we encountered a complete lack of flexibility on the part of the producers.”

Niedzielski admitted that the move had put the government in a legal conflict with Pfizer — which is the EU’s main supplier of coronavirus vaccines in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech. Talks with other companies will begin soon, the minister said, adding he hoped they will show more flexibility.

The Commission negotiated supply deals with major vaccine makers on behalf of EU member countries, and has also signed joint procurement contracts with Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and AstraZeneca among others.

“Member states are bound by contractual obligations, but the Commission understands the difficult position Poland is in,” said Commission spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker. He added that EU authorities would work to facilitate discussions and find a “pragmatic solution.”    

BioNTech and Pfizer declined to comment, saying only that they had an agreement with the European Commission to supply its COVID-19 vaccine to EU member states.

Last month, Poland was one of 11 countries that called on the Commission to create an EU fund to offset health costs for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion. Poland has taken in by far the most Ukrainians of any EU member country, hosting nearly 3 million refugees. Poland’s support of its neighbor Ukraine has won it plaudits throughout the bloc, but it hasn’t been enough to unblock EU funds held back over rule-of-law concerns.

This story has been updated with comment from the European Commission.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like

Europe

5 ans à l’Elysée (FR) Running time: 139 min (in three parts)Directed by the Président de la RépubliqueStarring: Emmanuel MacronGuest starring: The French government,...

Europe

Ivo Daalder, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, is president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and host of the weekly podcast “World Review...

Energy

A tentative compromise is being hashed out among EU countries over plans to sanction Russian oil imports, in an attempt to find a way...

Energy

Investments in fossil fuels have to be stamped out, except when they help Europe end its catastrophic dependence on Russian gas. That was the...

Europe

Ukraine wants the world to see the true cost of Russia’s brutal invasion. And there’s a digital tool which is perfect for that. Kyiv’s...

Europe

James Snell is a writer and researcher. He has written for Spectator World, Foreign Policy and other outlets. For years, countering kleptocracy — dirty...

Energy

Press play to listen to this article For almost a month, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been holding up a plan to hit...

Technology

Press play to listen to this article For the EU’s free-trade fans, the time has come to fire up negotiations with potential partners around...