Authorities in Australia said, Friday, that they are “disappointed and frustrated” because the European Union has banned sending 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to the country.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News: “It is clear that we are disappointed and frustrated with this decision, but that is also why we have taken precautions.”
He continued: “We have contracted about 150 million doses of vaccines, including 50 million doses that will be produced here in Australia .. The world is in a completely unknown region at the moment, and it is not surprising that some countries do not follow the rules.”
Sources in the European Union told the German news agency (dpa), on Thursday, that the European Union used a ban on exporting the “Covid-19” vaccine for the first time to prevent doses from leaving Italy to Australia, confirming a report by the “Financial Times” newspaper.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in a post on “Facebook”: “Today, Australia is considered an invulnerable country, according to the rules of the European Union.”
Di Maio said that preventing the vaccine from being dispatched “is not an act of hostility towards Australia, but is within the framework of the European Union on exports.”
In January, the European Union set up a registry to track vaccine exports amid a dispute with AstraZeneca over whether the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company is fulfilling its contractual obligations with the consortium.
The mechanism allows national authorities, in consultation with the European Commission, to block exports out of the European Union if the consortium believes the company is not honoring its agreements.
Unlike other “Covid-19” vaccine producers, Kfizer / Biontec and Moderna, AstraZeneca has not yet delivered the doses promised by the European Union.
There was suspicion that vaccines produced in the European Union were being sold to countries outside the bloc, which led to the creation of an export registry.
Meanwhile, the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine was given in Australia, Friday, after a different shipment arrived last week.
“The 250,000 doses won’t affect at all,” Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Nine Network, adding that the first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be produced locally will be ready within weeks.
Australia, with a population of about 25 million, has recorded about 29,000 cases of Coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, which is a much lower rate than most developed countries, and the number of deaths nationwide is now 909.
Meanwhile, Italy, with a population of about 60 million, has seen just under 3 million cases since the coronavirus outbreak began.