16 EU countries opted against Moderna vaccine top-up: Hungarian government

More than half of EU countries did not order as many doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine as they could have, according to a newly published delivery schedule posted by the Hungarian government.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s chief of staff published the delivery schedule and two pages of the EU’s purchasing agreement with vaccine producer Moderna on Sunday after opposition parties blamed the government for not buying enough Western vaccines.

Minister Gergely Gulyás confirmed in a Facebook post that the government did not purchase as many Moderna doses as it could have because the doses would have arrived too late in 2021. Instead, it stuck with its initial order for 1.7 million doses of the mRNA vaccine.

The European Commission has two contracts with Moderna for a total of 460 million doses. The Commission’s first contract with Moderna secured EU countries an initial 80 million doses, and included the option for countries to purchase an additional 80 million doses. The EU exercised this option in December. The Commission then signed a second contract with Moderna in February for another 300 million doses.

Additional orders for Moderna would have arrived at a time when there would already be sufficient vaccines from other sources, Gulyás wrote. Hungary will not receive all of its 1.7 million doses until the third quarter of the year, he added.

The schedule confirms that a number of EU countries similarly chose not to purchase any of the additional Moderna doses from the December top-up, as previously reported by POLITICO.

According to the document, 16 countries opted out of the vaccine top-up, including: Poland, Romania, Belgium, Greece, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta.

The schedule also shows that Portugal, Austria and Croatia placed smaller orders for the second batch of Moderna doses. Germany and Denmark both opted for the top-up. Germany, which initially ordered 14 million doses, made a second order of more than 35 million; Denmark made a second order of nearly 5 million, an increase over its first order of more than 1 million.

The schedule, which is not dated, appears to only show deliveries from the EU’s first contract, so it is unclear if these countries placed orders when the Commission signed a second contract with Moderna in February.

Moderna will supply 10 million doses in the first quarter of 2021, followed by 35 million in both the second and third quarters, according to the EU’s agreement. The second batch of 80 million doses will be delivered starting in the third quarter of 2021. The first 150 million doses from the Commission’s second contract will arrive in 2021 and the rest in 2022.

Gulyás, the Hungarian minister, blamed the company for being too slow in its deliveries, writing that actual fulfillment of the contract is “progressing worse” than the original schedule.

Hungary is the only country in the EU to currently be administering both the Chinese and Russian vaccines in addition to Western ones. In response to a question from POLITICO, the minister said Hungary “will be able to vaccinate everyone by July” and will have millions of doses in reserve.

Moderna’s deliveries to the EU were short throughout February, sometimes as high as 25 percent in one week. A company spokesperson said Moderna “remains on track” to meet its quarterly targets.



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