Italy blocks Australia-bound COVID vaccine shipment
Published: 03:47 PM, 5 March 2021
The Italian government has blocked the export of a shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine bound for Australia.
Due to this decision, 250,000 doses of vaccine produced at an AstraZeneca facility in Italy are not going to Australia, the BBC reported.
According to new European Union (EU) guidelines, if a vaccine company fails to meet the terms of an agreement with the alliance, member states will have the opportunity to block exporting the vaccine.
Italy is the first country in the EU to implement the directive.
Australia says missing a shipment will not hinder its vaccination program.
According to the BBC, the European Commission has supported Italy’s move.
In the first three months of this year, AstraZeneca is on track to supply only 40 percent of the contracted vaccine to EU member states. The company has reduced the supply of vaccine doses due to production shortages. As a result, there is a dispute with the EU over this.
In January, then-Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called the delay of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines “unacceptable”. He also accused the two companies of violating the agreement.
The EU has come under fire for its slow pace of coronavirus vaccine use. The blockchain vaccination program was adopted last June. The European Commission is buying vaccines for member states.
Neither the EU nor AstraZeneca has commented on Italy’s blockade of Australia-bound vaccine shipments.
The Australian government has begun the Pfizer-Bioentech vaccine rollout. The AstraZeneca vaccine was due to start rolling out on Friday.