‘You’ve failed!’ Greek PM savages Brussels over bungled coronavirus vaccine rollout

Vaccine row: Expert hits out at 'ineffective' distribution

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Mr Mitsotakis was speaking at a time when the bloc’s response is under the microscope, with the ratio of EU27 citizens having had at least one jab lagging far behind that of the UK. Nevertheless, he pledged that his country would double its vaccinations in the coming weeks and inoculate everyone over 60 years of age by the end of May.

Greece, which coped relatively well during the first wave of the pandemic last year, has been forced to tighten restrictions to combat a surge in cases over recent months, with hospitals in the worst affected areas around Athens struggling to cope.

Mr Mitsotakis said he was grateful for the joint purchasing of vaccines by the European Commission, which has helped smaller states such as Greece.

However, speaking in the Greek Parliament, he added: “At the same time it failed in getting the necessary quantities and supplying member states promptly.”

With the summer tourist season fast approaching, vital for Greece’s economy, the government is banking on a beefed-up testing campaign, including home test kits, to curb the virus.

However, Mr Mitsotakis also stressed that vaccination rates would also be stepped up in the next few weeks.

Greece, with a population of roughly 10 million, has administered nearly 1.7 million COVID shots so far and will complete another 1.5 million by the end of April.

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Everyone over 60 should have had at least one shot by the end of May, Mr Mitsotakis said.

The European Commission has come under fire over its handling of the vaccines rollout and has been engaged in bitter recriminations with Anglo-Swedish drugs maker AstraZeneca, which has delivered only a fraction of the vaccines originally expected.

Mr Mitsotakis said: “The European Union is obliged to use all the legal tools to force companies which have signed agreements with the bloc to respect their contractual obligations.”

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In adopting such a stance, he backed Ursula von der Leyen’s European Commission, which has said vaccine exports would be blocked until AstraZeneca delivers the shots it promised to the EU.

Most European Union member states on Thursday agreed to share part of their upcoming vaccine deliveries with the five EU countries they said need them most.

The EU’s vaccine doses are usually distributed between the bloc’s 27 countries based on population size.

After several days of negotiations, EU ambassadors agreed to change that system for 10 million BioNTech-Pfizer doses due to be delivered in the second quarter, so needier countries received more.

Of those 10 million doses, 2.85 million so-called “solidarity vaccines” will be shared between five countries, according to a statement from Portugal, which chairs meetings of EU ambassadors.

Those countries are Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia.

They will also receive their pro-rata share of the total 10 million doses.

To make that happen, 19 EU countries agreed to receive a pro-rata share of a smaller total of 6.66 million doses, the statement said.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said: “We have provided Croatia with an additional 747,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech by the end of June this year.”

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas praised “EU solidarity and cooperation” and said the country would receive 62,000 extra doses.

Three states – Austria, Czech Republic and Slovenia – left their share of the deliveries unchanged.

Austria said in a statement that it had rejected the proposal out of solidarity with the Czech Republic, which it said needed more doses to tackle its high rate of infections and deaths.

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