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Australia has asked the European Commission to review Italy’s decision to block a shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to the Pacific this week.
Earlier this week, Italian authorities asked the European Commission to block a shipment of 250,700 doses of the vaccine to Australia from Europe. AstraZeneca has not complied with the European Union’s supply obligations.
Italy claimed that Australia was not a “vulnerable” nation and should not qualify to receive such a shipment. Italy’s leaders also cited the ongoing shortage of vaccines in the EU as the reason for requesting that the body block exports.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a press conference that the Italian authorities had the right to try to block vaccine shipments to Australia, and he acknowledged that Italy is dealing with far higher cases of coronavirus than Australia is.
Italy reports more than 2.9 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracking project. Australia reported 90 active cases of COVID-19.
“I can certainly understand the high level of anxiety that would exist in Italy and in many countries across Europe as it is regularly transmitted to me,” Morrison said. “And then they have some real difficulties there. They’re in an unrestrained crisis situation. That’s not the situation in Australia.”
This was the first vaccination intervention intervention since the EU approved rules that could restrict the transport of vaccines outside Member States. The Commission approved COVID-19 vaccine export regulations within the EU to try to protect its supplies.
Morrison assured the Australians that the country’s immunization program would not be implemented by the shipping blockade.
“We have been able to secure our supplies and additional supplies for import, both with Pfizer and AstraZeneca, which means we can continue the implementation of our program,” he said. “This particular shipment was not one we had anticipated upon rollout, and so we continue unabated.”
EU vaccine export regulations have been criticized for promoting “vaccine nationalism” to the detriment of global pandemic recovery.
The new Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, told NPR, “when people think of vaccines, when they think of therapy and diagnostics, they are also about goods. And to the extent that countries, WTO members, have export restrictions or even ban on the export of these goods, this helps to hold back the recovery. “
Okonjo-Iweala said getting countries to drop export restrictions on vaccines and medical supplies needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic would be one of her top priorities.
However, Morrison defended Italy and the EU against these allegations in this case.
“It is fair to say that the European Union has seen a large amount of vaccines leave the European Union, so it would be unfair to suggest that they have practiced a universal practice of that kind,” he said.