Italians accuse Germany of taking more than its fair share in European vaccine distribution
Italians scrambling for Covid-19 vaccination appointments on Monday complained about “extra doses” of the Pfizer vaccine delivered to Germany as part of a scheme designed to treat all EU countries equally. Some politicians and public health experts bristled at the news that Germany received 10 times the number of doses as Italy on the first day of the vaccine roll-out. “The accounts don’t add up,” Italian virologist Roberto Burioni said on Twitter, pointing out the large discrepancy. Spain, Sweden, Croatia, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia and others each received 9,750 doses. But Germany, the EU’s largest member state and home to BioNTech, which developed the vaccine with Pfizer, received 151,125, a figure that is close to 9,750 doses for each of the 16 German federal states. Despite complaints from politicians, Italian health ministry officials defended the EU’s jointly procured vaccination distribution plan, which administers doses on a pro-rata basis to the 27 member states based on their Eurostat population count. Health undersecretary Sandra Zampa, called it an “absurd” controversy, noting the EU member states use different vaccine providers, with different delivery timings. “470,000 doses will soon be arriving in Italy,” said national Covid-19 commissioner Domenico Arcuri. “The 150,000 that were delivered in Germany are part of the next shipment that will arrive in our country starting on 28th of December. There is absolutely no discrimination.” The complaints came as it emerged on Monday that one southern German state had to dump around 1,000 doses after finding they were not properly chilled, while separately, eight care home workers in the north-eastern town of Stralsund were accidentally given five times the recommended dosage. BioNTech, which is based in Mainz, shipped vaccines directly to 25 German distribution centres, possibly outpacing shipments to elsewhere in Europe. German health ministry officials also said Berlin had signed a separate deal for 30 million extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Italy has also done separate deals for doses of the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines in hopes of inoculating 13 million residents by the end of March. Italy registered another 445 coronavirus deaths Monday, bringing the number of people who have died from the virus since the pandemic began to 72,370.