Individual COVID vaccine deals cannot undermine EU joint orders, Portugal says

FILE PHOTO: Portugal's Health Minister Marta Temido takes part in a videoconference with EU health ministers in Berlin, German July 16, 2020. Tobias Schwarz/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Any side deals for COVID-19 vaccines by European Union countries cannot undermine the bloc’s joint orders, the health minister of Portugal, which holds the six-month EU presidency, said on Friday.

Health Minister Marta Temido told reporters the EU should strive for as much of a joint approach to combating the coronavirus pandemic - including on vaccine purchases - as possible.

That did not rule out member states taking further steps on their own if they deem them necessary, she said, but stressed that any vaccine side deals “couldn’t run any risk” to what was already agreed under joint purchases.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Robin Emmott