Italy has blocked an AstraZeneca vaccine shipment to Australia, after the company failed to deliver sufficient doses to the EU.
The Italian foreign ministry said the move was due to the “continuing shortage of vaccines in the EU and in Italy, and delays in supplies from AstraZeneca to the EU and Italy.”
The shipment of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine was also seized because Australia was not a “vulnerable” country, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Australian health minister Greg Hunt said, “Australia has raised the issue with the European Commission through multiple channels, and in particular we have asked the European Commission to review this decision.”
The EU has taken up the task to procure vaccines for its member states and shortages in vaccine supply have pushed the 27-nation bloc to adhere to stricter guidelines.
Last week, Australia began its COVID inoculation program.
Finance minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News, “But the reality is we had 300,000 doses delivered last week and that will see our current distribution plan work until we have the domestic production of some 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine come online at the end of March.”