AstraZeneca vaccine exports to Australia blocked from leaving EU, says official

05 Mars, 2021, 05:26 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • The Astra Zeneca vaccine

Australia has asked the European Commission to review a decision by Italy to block a shipment of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, while stressing on Friday the missing doses would not affect the rollout of Australia's inoculation programme.

According to diplomatic sources, the Italian authorities received an application for authorisation to export COVID-19 vaccines to Australia from AstraZeneca.

The commission and Italy's government have come in for sharp criticism by Italians for a slow vaccination rollout, which started in December but has been held up by a lack of doses.

The mechanism is created to ensure drug manufacturers fulfil their contractual obligations to the bloc before commercial exports can be approved.

AstraZeneca did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Despite this, the vaccine rollout in the 27-member bloc has so far been slow yet the European Union insists it wants 70% of adults in Europe to have a jab by the end of the summer.

New European Union regulations, created to bolster the bloc's access to COVID-19 vaccines, permit member nations to request the export of locally-produced vaccine doses be blocked to other regions.

The mechanism was set up at the end of January as a reaction to vaccine makers' announcements of delays in the deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to the bloc.

Ms von der Leyen said she agreed with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that vaccine factories in the United Kingdom and Europe would deliver doses to the EU.

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But in an announcement today, the Standing Committee on Vaccination said that the earlier decision was "made completely correctly on the basis of the data available at the time".

Federal Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy said the CSL facility in Melbourne was on track to deliver the first batch of doses in the week starting on March 22.

The EU had threatened to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which only came into force four weeks before.

While Health Minister Christine Elliott said Ontario is "working hard to [ensure] that there is no waste whatsoever", she dismissed the concerns as a normal part of any immunization campaign.

AstraZeneca, which is fully supplying the United Kingdom in its world-leading rollout, is now on just 40% of its pledged 100 million doses to the EU.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 300,000 AstraZeneca doses had been approved for use after arriving in Sydney on Sunday.

Why is the European Union blocking exports of the jab and how is their rollout going?

The EU has vaccinated only eight per cent per cent of its population compared to over 30 per cent, for example, in the United Kingdom.

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