EU BLOCKS shipment of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines destined for Australia amid Covid vaccine chaos

THE EU has blocked shipment of 250,000 AstraZeneca jabs destined for Australia amid the bloc’s Covid vaccine chaos.

The controversial move came after the drug manufacturer failed to meet its EU contract commitments, say sources.

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The European Commission has blocked the export of AstraZeneca’s vaccine[/caption]

A shipment of a quarter million AstraZeneca vaccines was to be sent to help Australians fight the coronavirus.

But health bosses there have been left in limbo after the delivery was brutally barred from leaving the European Union.

Italy told Brussels last week that under the EU’s vaccine export transparency regime it was preventing the shipment.

It’s the first use of an export control system instituted by the bloc over a month ago.

An EU official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed a Financial Times report revealing the devastating action.

The paper says the move threatens to increase global tensions over procurement of Covid jabs.

Italy was the first and sole country to spearhead the move, reports the FT.

Although the European Commission has power to object to Italy’s decision – it did not, officials said.

The 250,000 doses were to be sent from AstraZeneca’s Anagni plant near Rome.

Italy has been taking a tough line in dealing with vaccine shortages within the 27-nation bloc since a new government led by Mario Draghi came into power last month.

It follows the EU issuing an export control system for Covid vaccines.

This must ensure that companies respect their contractual obligations to the bloc before commercial exports can be approved elsewhere – including to Australia.

The bloc has taken the churlish action after being faced with shortages of doses during the early stages of the vaccine campaign that started in late December.

The EU has been specifically angry with the the Anglo-Swedish company because it accuses it of delivering far fewer doses to the bloc than it had promised.

The bloc’s vaccination programme is failing miserably as it has vaccinated only eight per cent of its population – far less than the UK’s more than 30 per cent.

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