Italy Blocked AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Shipment To Australia: Reports

Italy has reportedly blocked a shipment of the AstraZeneca-Oxford’s Cvoid-19 vaccine to Australia on Thursday marking the first intervention by the European Union into the supply of coronavirus vaccines, claimed a report by Reuters.

Permission to ship around 250,000 doses of the vaccine from its Anagni, Italy, plant was made by the British pharma giant AstraZeneca to the Italian authorities recently, said the report from Reuters quoting sources with knowledge of the matter. But permission was not granted by the Italian government, claimed a similar report in The Financial Times.

There were no comments available on the issue from AstraZeneca, the EU and the Italian Foreign Ministry.

After a disagreement with AstraZeneca and wider supply issues, temporary controls on the export of vaccines made inside the bloc were imposed by the European Union in January. There has been criticism of the EU for what has been described as a slow roll out of Covid-19 vaccines in the region.

Critics targeted the European Commission, the arm of the EU that was responsible for securing supply and purchase agreements with critics claiming that the body had been unable to secure enough doses. Critics also pulled up the medical regulator of the region over allegations that it had taken too long to approve vaccine that had already been approved by other regulators.

The controls imposed on the exporting of EU made Covid-19 vaccines will be implementable till the end of March and these controls give the power to member countries of the EU to not allow any authorization of exports of vaccines to outside of the bloc if the makers of the vaccines fail to honor contracts with the EU.

A number of issues of production at its plants in the Netherlands and Belgium had forced AstraZeneca to announce in January this year that it would be able to deliver significantly lower number of doses of its Covid-19 vaccines to the EU during the spring that it had estimated previously. And to try and compensate for the shortfall in deliveries, the British pharma giant would be delivering 9 million additional doses in the first quarter of the current year, the company had said on January 31.

(Adapted from CNBC.com)

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