Daily US Times: The government of Italy has blocked the export of an Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine shipment to Australia.
The decision affects 250,000 doses of the Covid vaccine produced at an AstraZeneca facility in Italy.
Italy is the first European Union country to use the bloc’s new regulations allowing exports to be stopped if the company providing the coronavirus vaccines has failed to meet its obligations to the EU.
Australia said in response that losing “one shipment” would not badly affect its rollout.
Reports say the move has been backed by the European Commission.
AstraZeneca is on track to provide only 40% of the agreed supply to EU member states in the first three months of the year. The company has cited production problems for the shortfall.
In January, then Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described delays in coronavirus vaccine supplies by both Pfizer and AstraZeneca as “unacceptable” and accused the companies of violating their contracts.
The European Union has been widely criticised for the slow pace of its vaccination programme.
The EU vaccine scheme was established in June last year. Under the scheme, the bloc has negotiated the purchase of vaccines on behalf of member states.
There has been no official comment on Italy’s decision by the EU or AstraZeneca.
Last week, Australia began its vaccination programme using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It was due to start inoculations with the AstraZeneca jab on Friday.