Italy, EU block AstraZeneca vaccine cargo to Australia

AP 21046616550395

The move affecting 250,000 doses displays frustration inside the bloc over the shortfall of promised vaccine deliveries.

A cargo of a quarter-million AstraZeneca vaccines destined for Australia has been blocked from leaving the European Union within the first use of an export management system instituted by the bloc to ensure massive pharma firms would respect their contracts.

Italy’s order blocking the dispatch of 250,000 doses was accepted by the European Commission, which has fiercely criticised the Anglo-Swedish firm this yr for supplying only a fraction of the vaccine doses it had promised to ship to the bloc.

The move, affecting solely a small variety of vaccines, underscores a rising frustration inside the 27-nation bloc concerning the sluggish rollout of its vaccine drive and the shortfall of promised vaccine deliveries, particularly by AstraZeneca.

The Financial Times on Thursday first reported on the ban that got here on the behest of Italy, which has been taking a troublesome line in coping with vaccine shortages since a brand new authorities led by Mario Draghi got here into energy final month.

Faced with shortages of doses in the course of the early levels of the vaccine marketing campaign that began in late December, the EU issued an export management system for COVID-19 vaccines.

Under the fee’s “transparency and authorisation mechanism” EU member states vet deliberate exports of authorised COVID-19 vaccines that depart the bloc.

The EU has been particularly indignant with AstraZeneca as a result of it’s delivering far fewer doses to the bloc than it had promised. Of the preliminary 80 million doses the EU ordered for the primary quarter, the corporate can be struggling to ship simply half that amount.

‘Worrying trend’

The World Health Organization (WHO) in January stated the EU export vetting scheme is a part of a “very worrying trend” that might jeopardise international provide chains for vaccines. The EU is among the world’s vaccine-producing powerhouses.

The scheme began on January 30 and can run till no less than the tip of March.

The EU has vaccinated solely eight % of its inhabitants in contrast with greater than 30 %, for instance, within the United Kingdom. Australia is within the very early levels of its vaccination drive.

With its 450 million folks, the EU has signed offers for six completely different vaccines. In whole, it has ordered as much as 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and sealed agreements with different firms for greater than two billion pictures.

It has stated that regardless of the present difficulties, it’s nonetheless satisfied it could vaccinate 70 % of the grownup inhabitants by the tip of the hotter months.