Danish, Austrian leaders snub EU with Israel vaccine visit

Sebastian Kurz

Sebastian Kurz and Mette Frederiksen, who will visit Jerusalem on Thursday to discuss vaccination cooperation, feel they cannot rely exclusively on the EU.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will arrive in Israel tomorrow to study at first hand Israel's successful vaccination rollout. The Israel, Austria, Denmark 'vaccination summit' will also focus on how the three countries will in the future be able to develop together second generation Covid vaccines for variants that are resistant to current vaccinations.

Kurz said, "We must prepare ourselves for the outbreak of other mutations and that also means that we cannot only rely on the EU for the manufacture of second generation vaccinations."

One possibility is that the summit is connected to reports that Pfizer, whose CEO Albert Bourla is visiting Israel next week, will set up a vaccine manufacturing plant here.

As Kurz's comments indicate, the visit and the plans to cooperate with Israel are a major snub to the EU and its centralized, collective vaccine procurement and distribution policy. The latest figures show that only 7.5% of the EU population has received one vaccine dose compared with 52% in Israel.

The European media is a full of stories praising the success of Israel's vaccination drive and some of its creative ideas to persuade people to have inoculations, such as vaccinations in bars with free beer, as well as the green passport, which is allowing life to return to normal. Israeli medicine has been described as among the best in the world and the extensive research in Israel proving that the Pfizer vaccine is effective in the real world has received major media coverage.

The Austrian and Danish leaders see the visit to Israel as an opportunity to show their peoples that they are trying to do something as their vaccination drives struggle to get off the ground.

Frederiksen told Danish TV, "If only I could, I would come back from Israel with a plane full of vaccine doses."

She admitted that she had tried and failed to procure vaccine doses from Israel and added. "Israel is in the forefront of the struggle against Covid. Long-term strategic cooperation could be of critical importance in gaining control over the virus."

The two European leaders come from different political backgrounds. Kurz is a right wing admirer of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Frederiksen is a left of center social democratic leader, who was also in Israel last year and has warm relations with Netanyahu, who praised her for her staunch opposition to members of her party who were trying to outlaw circumcision as a threat to the welfare of children.

It still remains unclear whether the vaccination summit will result in any concrete cooperation or will ultimately end in purely symbolic declarations.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 3, 2021

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021

Sebastian Kurz
Sebastian Kurz
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