Thu, 4 Mar, 2021

Sudden blow for Australian vaccine rollout

Sudden blow for Australian vaccine rollout

Italy has blocked 250,000 AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines from being shipped to Australia under a new ruling by the European Commission.

In January, the European Commission introduced rules that required vaccine manufacturers in European Union countries to get authorisation from the nation where the vaccine is produced before being able to ship out doses to other countries.

“In the future, all companies producing vaccines against COVID-19 in the EU will have to provide early notification whenever they want to export vaccines to third countries,” Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said at the time.

The Financial Times reported that the Italian government notified Brussels of its decision to prevent the doses from being exported to Australia, with the European Commission being able to object to that decision. It did not.

This is the first time that the EU's export control system has been invoked, as the EU wants to keep as many doses inside the union.

Currently, the EU has vaccinated less than 10 per cent of its population.

A new Italian government, led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi, immediately took a harder line on dealing with vaccine shortages after coming into power last month.

Draghi has called for companies that have failed to fulfil their contractual obligations to the EU to be sanctioned.

English journalist Kevin MacKenzie has erupted at the news of the ban.

“The EU is a disgrace. Read this. Under new protectionst laws they have banned Italy shipping 250,000 AZ jabs to Australia.

“Europe is short of vaccine due to its own stupidity. France and Germany don’t even believe in AZ but won’t let anybody else have it. Shockers.”

Most Australians are set to receive the AstraZeneca jab but 60,000 of the Pfizer vaccine have already been administered in Australia.

Neither AstraZenca or the European Commission have commented on the news at the time of writing.