Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel, Austria and Denmark will establish a joint fund for research and development of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We are going to do a joint research and development fund and discuss … the possibility of joint investment in production facilities for vaccines,” he told reporters, with Austria’s chancellor and Denmark’s prime minister at his side.
Netanyahu declared that “together we’re starting here something that I think will galvanize the imagination of the world.”
“Other countries have already called me and they’ve said ‘We want to be part of this effort.’”
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a news conference in Yerushalayim that they are “very inspired by Israel’s ability to roll out the vaccines” in so short a time.
The three countries “have been working very closely together” since the start of the pandemic, she added.
The Chancellor commended Israel’s handling of the pandemic, saying that “the world is looking at Israel with admiration,” [showing the world] that it is possible to defeat the virus.”
The two visitors took flak from France for breaking ranks with the European Union. France’s foreign ministry defended the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for intolerable slowness in vaccine rollout and insisted that “the most effective solution for meeting our vaccination needs must remain within a European framework.”
“This is what guarantees the solidarity among member states that is more essential than ever,” it said in a statement late Wednesday, according to AFP.
Kurz irked some of his EU colleagues ahead of the trip to Israel, saying “We should not be solely dependent on the EU anymore.”
But Austria and Denmark aren’t the only ones. Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic have already bypassed the EMA to approve Russian and Chinese coronavirus vaccines.
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian acknowledged on Wednesday “significant” shortcomings in the EU’s vaccination policies, but criticized what he called “attempts at secession.”
“The approval process for the European market has also been reviewed, with the introduction of ’emergency procedures’ for vaccines targeting new variants,” the ministry added.
Updated Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 12:29 pm .