Italy blocked the export of the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca PLC to Australia, in a coordinated move with European Union authorities, reflecting growing frustration in Europe with slow vaccine deliveries. The move was driven by persistent vaccine shortages in Italy and the EU, delays in the supply of vaccines by AstraZeneca AZN, + 0.15% AZN, + 0.93% and the fact that Australia is considered a “non-vulnerable country” to Covid-19 under EU regulations, the Italian Foreign Ministry said.
The decision affects 250,700 doses, a figure that, according to the ministry, is high compared to what AstraZeneca has delivered so far. The doses were packed in a factory near Rome that is part of the company’s supply chain. AstraZeneca has delivered around 1.5 million doses to Italy, according to the government. Read: A single dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine reduces the risk of hospitalization by more than 80%, according to a study, AstraZeneca representatives declined to comment on the decision. The move by the government of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in Rome is the first use of a new EU policy that allows the imposition of controls on the export of Covid-19 vaccines. The EU is struggling to meet public expectations for a large-scale vaccine launch that would curb the spread of Covid-19 and ease the onerous restrictions that have weighed on Europe’s daily life and economy for months. EU authorities have come under fire for a vaccine strategy that is betting on acquiring a variety of different vaccines, some of which are not yet approved or available, and has been slow compared to regulatory and procurement efforts in the Kingdom. UK and US of this story can be found at WSJ.com