Conditions of EU’ Pfizer talks ‘outrageous’, Polish health minister
Poland will not join the new COVID-19 vaccine deal negotiated by the EU on behalf of the member states, according to Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski, who called Pfizer’s demand for payments for the undelivered doses outrageous.
The EU Commission announced last Friday that it reached an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech on potentially reducing deliveries agreed in 2020 under the EU Vaccines Strategy and extending the length of time in which member states will be able to receive them.
In an offer presented to the Commission, Pfizer demanded payments for the undelivered doses, amounting to half of the cost of the full deliveries, Niedzielski pointed out, calling that condition “outrageous.”
“The conditions negotiated by the Commission on behalf of the member states with Pfizer are absolutely unsatisfying, and we are not going to join the deal,” Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said on Thursday, as quoted by Polish Press Agency (PAP).
Poland is leading a coalition of European countries pushing to renegotiate contracts with the US pharmaceutical company. Earlier this year, as the first EU country, it was given a green light to renegotiate its vaccine contract with Pfizer on its own.
Still, the European Commission was simultaneously negotiating for the whole bloc. Talks were handled by the “Joint negotiation team”, consisting of the Commission and several member state representatives, the Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV.pl in March.
Due to the changing epidemic situation, Poland has long insisted on reducing vaccine deliveries, citing the dramatically rising costs related to accepting and keeping Ukrainian refugees after the Russian invasion.
From April 2022, Poland acted in a force majeure regime, refusing to receive new deliveries, Niedzielski said. He argued that contracts are so badly-defined that they practically force countries to accept hundreds of millions of doses that nobody needs anymore.
In a letter sent last month and seen by EURACTIV, Niedzielski asked to change the terms of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine contracts to “ease the financial burden” and prevent thousands of vaccines from being wasted.
He accused the company of a lack of goodwill to reach an agreement with Poland and other EU countries. He wrote that Pfizer is not ready to show a satisfactory level of flexibility and to make any realistic proposals to answer the changed health situation in Europe.
According to the minister, several EU member countries, including Hungary and Romania, share Warsaw’s criticism of the Commission’s deal. Lithuania is also likely to join the opposition, Niedzielski added.
He also clarified that the problems concern only one supplier of vaccines. With all the other ones, deals have been reached on “the major reductions” of the deliveries, the minister said.
(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | EURACTIV.pl)