STA, 16 March 2021 - Slovenia has ordered 90% of the vaccines it is entitled to in the first and second quarter of the year on a pro rata basis. In December, it did not put in an order for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine during a second round of joint EU purchasing, show figures from the EU's vaccination steering board.
This would suggest Slovenia does not have as much vaccine as it would be entitled to because in December, when an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was available under the first contract with the company, it did not place an order. Only Slovakia and Bulgaria made the same decision back then, according to these figures.
Slovenia ordered 80% of the Pfizer/BioNTech of the vaccine it was eligible for on a pro rata basis, a share that is not among the lowest in the EU. Slovakia for example ordered 56% of its share, and Croatia and Bulgaria 46%.
Unofficial information from well placed sources in Brussels suggests price may have played a role, since the Pfizer/BioNTech is more expensive.
On the other hand, Slovenia ordered 100% of its pro rata share of the Moderna Vaccine, 102.6% of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 100% of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Overall, Slovenia ordered almost 1.9 million vaccines for the first and second quarter, according to the figures by the steering board, which features representatives of all member states.
Prime Minister Janez Janša responded to the news on Twitter saying that if Slovenia had not ordered an additional million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after he provisionally took over as health minister, its vaccination rate would now be on a par with Bulgaria and Croatia, which have some of the lowest vaccination rates according to publicly available figures.
"Before, they ordered mostly #AstraZeneca," he tweeted.
Janša took over the health portfolio on 18 December after the resignation of Tomaž Gantar and was acting as health minister until Janez Poklukar was appointed in late February.
Minister Poklukar, speaking to journalists via videolink after meeting his EU counterparts, said he did not have detailed information about Slovenia's vaccine orders.
He said, however, that doubts remained about the distribution of vaccines, adding that the key thing at this point was a sufficient supply of vaccines in accordance with the contracts with manufacturers.
The Health Ministry additionally noted that, in the first phase, Slovenia had fully utilised the possibility to purchase Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on a pro rata basis.
In the autumn, it did not opt for an additional order, as it had been expected that AstraZeneca vaccine would be approved before that. Decision was made to order all possible quantities after the leadership at the ministry changed.
Slovenia has thus secured 936,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine from the first contract and 912,000 from the contract on the first additional quantity. It still waits for a new contract for an additional 410,700 doses, the ministry said.
"Slovenia has thus utilised all contractual possibilities, but not all optional possibilities for the two mentioned producers. The same is true for Moderna, the order of which is awaiting final confirmation."
The ministry added that Slovenia was also interested in all doses of vaccines that other countries would not want to have.
The figures come after six prime ministers, including Janša, held a meeting in Vienna today to call for a "correction mechanism" to fix what they called the unfair distribution of coronavirus vaccines within the bloc.
The European Commission has said the pro rata system was the underlying principle, but member states may agree otherwise, with some getting less and others getting more than their pro rata share.