Italy blocks shipment of AstraZeneca Covid vaccine destined for Australia

Vials of AstraZeneca vaccine towards coronavirus (COVID-19) through the first day of a mass vaccination of Police and Firefighters within the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium.

Marcos del Mazo | LightRocket | Getty Images

LONDON — The European Union has made its first intervention into the availability of coronavirus vaccines, with Italy blocking a shipment of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to Australia on Thursday.

Reuters reported, citing two sources, that British pharma big AstraZeneca had requested permission from Rome to ship round 250,000 doses from its Anagni, Italy, plant. However, the Italian authorities refused. The Financial Times additionally reported the identical story and an EU official, who most popular to stay nameless, later confirmed the transfer to CNBC.

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca declined to remark when contacted by CNBC. A spokesperson for the Italian Foreign Ministry wasn’t instantly out there for remark.

In January, the European Union positioned short-term controls on the export of vaccines made contained in the bloc, following a spat with AstraZeneca and wider provide points. The EU has been beneath strain for what critics describe as a gradual rollout of Covid vaccines.

The European Commission, the establishment main the acquisition agreements, has been blamed for not securing sufficient vaccines, and the area’s medical company has been criticized for taking too lengthy to approve inoculations which have acquired the inexperienced gentle elsewhere.

The controls will final till the tip of March and provides powers to EU member states to reject authorizing exports if the vaccine makers don’t honor contracts.

In January, AstraZeneca mentioned it will be delivering far fewer doses to the EU within the spring than initially anticipated, on account of manufacturing points at its vegetation within the Netherlands and Belgium. On Jan. 31, it then mentioned it will ship 9 million further doses within the first quarter to attempt to make up for the shortfall.

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