Poland is refusing to accept or pay for any more shipments of the Pfizer COVID vaccines as the country still has millions of unused doses, Inside Paper reported.
About 51 percent of the country’s 38 million people are fully vaccinated, according to health ministry figures, and interest in getting the jab has dropped significantly in recent weeks. Poland abolished practically all of its COVID-19 restrictions back in March due to a reduction of infections.
Poland’s health minister acknowledged on Tuesday that the situation could lead to “a legal conflict,” as the additional doses were ordered by the European Commission.
“Late last week, we invoked the hardship clause and informed at once the European Commission and the main vaccine maker [Pfizer] that we refuse to receive the doses and also refuse to make payments,” Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told the news channel TVN24.
“This situation will lead to a legal conflict — or, in fact, there already is one,” he said. Niedzielski explained that the deal had been signed by the Commission and the vaccine makers without Poland’s direct input.
He noted the additional doses ordered number between 67 and 70 million, and Poland still has 25 million unused doses.
“We’re very disappointed by the attitude of the Commission and the makers,” Niedzielski added. He said Poland had tried in vain to spread out the shipments over a few years, and now Poland is in a tight financial situation because of the influx of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
“Member states are bound by their contractual obligations but the commission, of course, understands the difficult position that Poland is in and will continue to facilitate discussion between the Polish government and the company in order to find a pragmatic solution,” Stefan De Keersmaecker told reporters.