Netanyahu and Kurz
Netanyahu and Kurz Kobi Gideon/GPO

Austria and Denmark have announced plans to work with Israel to produce second-generation coronavirus vaccines, the Associated Press reported.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will visit Israel together later this week to discuss with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on vaccine research and production cooperation. Chancellor Kurz said Tuesday that the two countries would no longer rely on the European Union for vaccine production.

The EU has contracts with Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech and CureVac to secure two billion vaccine doses. However, vaccine distribution in the Eu has lagged behind the US and especially Israel, which has provided at least one vaccine dose to over half of its population.

Due to delays in production and deliveries of the vaccines, only 33 million EU residents have received a vaccine dose so far and only 11 million have been fully vaccinated.

"We must prepare for further mutations and should no longer be dependent solely on the EU in the production of second-generation vaccines,” Kurz said.

Kurz said Austria and Denmark “will no longer rely on the EU… and will in the coming years produce doses of second-generation vaccine for further mutations of the coronavirus together with Israel as well as researching jointly treatment possibilities,” APA reported.

EU Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said that the move would not undermine the EU's vaccination plans. “The point is that none of the member states has signaled in any way that they want to receive [fewer] doses based on our EU vaccine strategy,” he said. “What certain member states are looking at is how to prepare the future. We will continue with our vaccine strategy exactly as before and continue to adapt as the situation evolves.”

He added that Israel's vaccination strategy could not be simply transplanted to the EU's 27 states and 450 million residents and that each country was responsible for its own vaccine rollout strategy.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stated that working with Israel does not mean that Denmark is no longer part of the EU vaccination program.

“I think we are best off being in European cooperation in the field of vaccines as well,” she said.