EU cracks: France accused of trying to influence bloc’s Covid vaccine contracts

FRANCE has been accused of trying to bully the European Union into giving Covid vaccine contracts to French manufacturers as tensions soar over the bloc's roll-out programme.

PUBLISHED: 17:53, Wed, Jan 6, 2021 | UPDATED: 18:07, Wed, Jan 6, 2021

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EU 'don't have a plan' for vaccine rollout says expert

The latest row threatens to re-open just-healed wounds from the start of the pandemic when the EU nearly tore itself apart as member states fought over protective medical equipment, border closures and an economic rescue package. And it comes amid fears that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shots Germany made for itself could wreck an EU-wide distribution scheme designed to ensure every member state received their fair share of doses.

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France took care that not too much German vaccine was purchased in relation to the French vaccine

Karl Lauterbach

Karl Lauterbach, an epidemiologist and MP with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Social Democrat coalition partners, alleged France was trying to influence the EU's clutch of contracts in favour of a vaccine being developed by French pharma-giant Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline.

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He said: "France took care that not too much German vaccine was purchased in relation to the French vaccine.

"I do believe that other issues rather than purely health-related matters played a role here."

Germany's biggest tabloid Bild ran a headline saying "France prevented more German vaccine", referring to the Sanofi/GSK shot and that of Pfizer with the German biotechnology company BioNTech.

France Sanofi vaccineFrance has been accused of trying to bully Brussels into buying the Sanofi vaccine (Image: GETTY)

French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune rejected accusations against France as "unacceptable and false".

He said: "It is absurd to play countries and laboratories off against each other because all countries need all the vaccines to vaccinate the maximum number of people between now and the summer."

The fresh rifts started to appear amid deep frustration over the slow roll-out of coronavirus vaccines across the EU.

READ MORE: Are you watching, Brussels? UK vaccinates more than whole EU

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