First in EU, Italy halts export of 250,000 AstraZeneca shotsEuropost
Italy told the European Commission it was blocking the export of over 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to Australia, the first EU member to make such a move, and the EC accepted the proposal, ANSA reported on Thursday. The shots were due to go to Australia. Italy's proposal was made in line with the new European mechanism on export controls.
Rome made the move in light of the current dearth of Covid vaccines, delays to AstraZeneca deliveries in Europe, the high number of shots involved compared to what has so far been supplied to Italy and the EU, and the fact that Australia is not a vulnerable country.
The Commission has fiercely criticised the Anglo-Swedish company this year for supplying just a fraction of the vaccine doses it had promised to deliver to the bloc.
The doses came from a plant in Italy operated by AstraZeneca to produce some of its vaccine, one of three authorised for use in the EU alongside the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna versions, AFP reported.
Under the commission's "transparency and authorisation mechanism" EU member states vet planned exports out of the bloc of authorised Covid-19 vaccines. The scheme started on January 30 and is to run until at least the end of March.
AstraZeneca, which is fully supplying the UK in its world-leading rollout, is currently on just 40% of its pledged 100 million doses to the EU.