The Australian authorities today expressed their disappointment with the decision of Italy and the European Union to block the export of 250,000 doses of the vaccine for the new coronavirus produced by the Swedish-British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
“Obviously we are disappointed and frustrated by this decision, but we have taken action on this very possibility,” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News.
“People are in an uncharted area at the moment, so it is not surprising that some countries tear the books with the rules,” he added sharply, as broadcast by AMPE.
The EU yesterday implemented for the first time its decision to block the export of vaccines for the new coronavirus. European sources told German News Agency that Rome and Brussels had decided not allow the quantity of AstraZeneca vaccines to be exported to Australia, confirming an article in the Financial Times.
“Australia is now considered a ‘non-vulnerable’ country under EU rules,” said Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Mayo.
The decision “is not hostile to her Australia, is part of the (rules) of the EU for the export of vaccines “, added the head of the Italian diplomacy.
The EU set up a mechanism to control export of vaccines for the new coronavirus following its January conflict with the AstraZeneca concerning whether and to what extent Swedish pharmaceuticals were fulfilling their contractual obligations.
“Australia has raised the issue with the European Commission through a number of channels, more specifically we asked her to reconsider this decision “Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Melbourne.
The EU-approved mechanism allows national authorities, in consultation with the Commission, to block the export of vaccines to countries outside the Union if a pharmaceutical is considered to be failing to meet its commitments.
Unlike other companies that produce vaccines for the new coronavirus, such as Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna, AstraZeneca is slow to deliver the quantities of doses it has agreed to supply to the Member States.
European officials believe that vaccines produced in the EU are sold abroad, which is why the export control mechanism has been set up.
However, several exports of quantities of vaccines produced in Europe since its inception have been approved.
In addition, the first injections of AstraZeneca were made in Australia today, in varying quantities, which arrived in the country last week.
The quantity of 250,000 doses that was banned from being exported from Italy “Will not affect the vaccination campaign”, assured the Minister of Interior of Australia, Peter Dutton, in Nine Network. He added that the first installments to be produced in the country are expected to be ready within a week.
Australia, a country of 25 million people, has so far recorded 909 deaths due to COVID-19 out of a total of 29,000 SARS-CoV-2 cases, numbers dramatically lower than most other developed countries per capita. Italy, a country of about 60 million people, has so far recorded almost 99,000 deaths out of a total of 3 million cases.