*Updates with more Babiš comments
British-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca denied on Friday that it had offered anyone in the EU separate deals for COVID-10 vaccines, responding to comments by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
Earlier on Friday EURACTIV Czech Republic reported that Babiš had told the Czech parliament a day earlier that together with three other EU leaders, he was offered to sign separate COVID-19 vaccine agreements, outside of the EU deal framework.
“While AstraZeneca was refusing to deliver to the EU 80 million doses, we received repeated offers of this vaccine – not only me but three other prime ministers in Europe – even before the start of deliveries [to the EU],” Babiš told Czech lawmakers.
“A company, an intermediary from Dubai. With 50% prepayment,” he said.
“Believe me, we would definitely use this opportunity if it was realistic. But we cannot afford it […] Of course, we have some [EU] agreements and we have to respect them,” Babiš added.
AstraZeneca told EURACTIV in exclusive emailed comments that the company’s “current focus is delivering on our substantial global commitments to governments and international health organisations, as quickly as possible to help end the pandemic; as such there is currently no private sector supply, sale or distribution of the vaccine”.
“If someone offers private vaccines, it is likely counterfeit, so it should be refused and reported to local health authorities,” it added.
EURACTIV was informed that this company from Dubai had also contacted Poland, but was not able to verify this independently.
Meanwhile, Babiš also said that he sent a letter about this matter to the European Commission.
Speaking at the midday briefing on Friday, European Commission spokesperson Stefan de Keersmaecker said parallel deals are not allowed when it comes to the EU vaccination strategy.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]