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Italy blocks AstraZeneca vaccine shipment bound for Australia

John Dunne
·2-min read
<p>An AstraZeneca jab being prepared</p> (Reuters)

An AstraZeneca jab being prepared

(Reuters)

Italy has blocked a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from leaving the country for Australia using new EU export laws for the first time.

Authorities in the country refused to grant a licence for 250,000 doses manufactured in the country to be exported.

Officials in Rome had informed the EU of its plan to block the shipment last week and met no resistance to the move.

European leader passed new laws in January which require vaccine-makers to get permission from member states if they are planning to ship jabs manufactured in their countries overseas.

The 250,000 doses will reportedly now be distributed within the EU, whose member states are falling behind other developed nations, including the UK.

The move came after a row between Brussels and AstraZeneca after the company said an initial delivery of vaccines to the EU would fall short.

European leaders accused the British-Swedish company of shipping doses made on the continent to the UK, saying it amounted to unfair treatment. However, the EU backtracked on its initial threat of legal action.

Italy’s move also came a day after Thierry Breton, who is in charge of speeding up the EU’s jab programme, claimed that no vaccine doses had left Europe since export controls were brought in.

Speaking in The Hague on Wednesday, Mr Breton said he would ensure that AstraZeneca “delivers what is promised” in the coming months.

He also said that Europe has “plenty of vaccines available” and will be able to offer one to every adult before the end of summer.

Mr Breton claimed that EU countries have received 43 million doses so far, but have not yet used about 30 per cent of them.

He added: “No single country can have an autonomous vaccination strategy ... we all depend on one another.”

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