For the first time, the European Commission and the Italian authorities have stopped the export of a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines to a country outside the EU.
It concerns 250,000 vaccine doses that AstraZeneca wanted to ship from Italy to Australia. However, Italy refuses to let the vaccines go, and the European Commission supports that decision, reports the Financial Times.
The European Commission approved compulsory registration for the export of vaccines outside the Union, in January, as it wanted to gain insight into which vaccines were exported to which country, and how many doses it concerned. The Commission also stressed that it could stop “unjustified” vaccine deliveries.
The EU introduced this mechanism after it appeared in January that AstraZeneca could only deliver half of the previously promised vaccines in the first months of this year. With an export ban, the EU can prevent too many vaccines from going to other countries.
As the move could heighten worldwide tensions about quickly acquiring sufficient vaccines, stopping the export is considered a very drastic measure, reports De Morgen.
The shipment was already stopped last Friday, according to the Italian newspaper La Republicca. The doses will be distributed among the 27 EU Member States.