EU plans tougher controls on coronavirus vaccine exports

EU plans tougher controls on vaccine exports
Vaccine campaigns across Europe have started slowly, blamed partly on delayed deliveries. Source: EPA
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Daily US Times: The European Commission (EC) is to call for tougher controls on Covid-19 vaccine exports after it accused AstraZeneca of failing to honour its contract to supply European Union countries.

The proposals, to go before the leaders of the EU on Thursday, stop short of a ban but could enflame tensions with the United Kingdom.

Under the plans any shipment of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine would be assessed on the country’s rate of vaccinations and vaccine exports.

Meanwhile, millions of AstraZeneca doses have reportedly been found in Italy.

La Stampa website says some 29m vaccine doses due to be shipped to the United Kingdom were being stored at the Catalent plant in Anagni near Rome but were discovered by Italian inspectors as part of an investigation by the European Commission.

The foreign ministry in Rome and the Italian prime minister’s office refused to comment on the matter. The plant has a contract with the Swedish-UK firm to “fill and finish” its vaccines and is set to do the same for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also approved for use in the EU.

The reported discovery of the Covid-19 vaccine comes weeks after the Italian government blocked the export of 250,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine to Australia, as part of new EU regulations allowing a shipment to be stopped if a company is seen as failing to meet its obligations to the EU.

The latest proposals come as EU countries try to speed up Covid vaccination campaigns after a sluggish start, blamed partly on delayed deliveries of the AstraZeneca drug as well as safety checks.

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