Austria's Kurz and allies seek 'correction' on EU vaccine distribution

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VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Tuesday he and allies from eastern Europe were pushing for the European Union to adjust the way it distributes COVID-19 vaccines after complaining it was uneven

Kurz and the leaders of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia and Croatia last week wrote to the heads of the European Commission and Council, saying the distribution was not happening in line with national populations as had been agreed.

Kurz’s opponents have accused him of trying to deflect blame away from his government for the relatively slow pace of vaccinations.

The EU has a mechanism for redistributing doses left when others do not take up their full pro rata allocation, and the Commission has said it is up to member states to decide whether they want to go back to a strictly population-based method.

“It has to be possible here to develop a correction mechanism,” Kurz told a news conference with his Bulgarian, Czech and Slovenian counterparts after a meeting that the leaders of Croatia and Latvia joined by video link.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel are working “to find a solution”, Kurz added.

Bulgaria and Latvia have administered a first vaccine dose to the smallest share of their adult populations in the EU, according to the latest weekly report here by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, at 4.1% each.

In Malta that figure is 14.9%. Austria is on 7.8%.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Catherine Evans and Andrew Heavens