The movement affecting 250,000 doses reflects frustration within the bloc at the lack of deliveries of promised vaccines.
A shipment of a quarter of a million AstraZeneca vaccines destined for Australia was prevented from leaving the European Union when an export control system instituted by the bloc was first used to ensure that large pharmaceutical companies would honor their contracts.
Italy’s order to block the shipment of 250,000 doses has been accepted by the European Commission, which this year sharply criticized the Anglo-Swedish company for providing only a fraction of the vaccine doses it had promised to deliver. in the OR.
The move, which affects only a small number of vaccines, underlines growing frustration within the bloc of 27 countries over the slow roll-out of its vaccination campaign and the lack of promised vaccine deliveries, especially by AstraZeneca.
The Financial Times reported for the first time on Thursday on the ban at the behest of Italy, which has taken a firm line in the face of vaccine shortages since a new government led by Mario Draghi came to power last month.
Faced with dose shortages during the early stages of the vaccination campaign which began at the end of December, the EU has published an export control system for COVID-19 vaccines.
Under the Commission’s ‘transparency and authorization mechanism’, EU member states are monitoring planned exports of authorized COVID-19 vaccines leaving the bloc.
The EU has been particularly angry with AstraZeneca for delivering far fewer doses to the block than it had promised. Of the 80 million initial doses ordered by the EU for the first quarter, the company will struggle to deliver only half that amount.
“ Worrisome trend ”
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in January that the EU’s export control program was part of a “very worrying trend” that could put global vaccine supply chains at risk. The EU is one of the world’s leading vaccine producers.
The program started on January 30 and will last at least until the end of March.
The EU has only vaccinated 8 percent of its population compared to over 30 percent, for example, in the UK. Australia is in the very early stages of its vaccination campaign.
With its 450 million inhabitants, the EU has signed agreements for six different vaccines. In total, it has ordered up to 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and sealed deals with other companies for more than two billion doses.
He said that despite the current difficulties, he is still confident he can immunize 70 percent of the adult population by the end of the warmer months.