Sydney, Australia, Mar 5 (efe-epa).- Australia on Friday asked the European Commission (EC) to review Italy’s decision to block the shipment of 250,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from a facility in the country to the Oceanian nation.
“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,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters, adding that the country’s nationwide vaccination program will continue smoothly.
On Thursday, Italy said that its decision, backed by the European Commission, was due to a shortage of vaccines in the European Union (EU) and Italy, as well as delivery delays by the pharmaceutical company and the fact that Australia is not on a list of “vulnerable” countries.
Italy is the first EU country to block the export of vaccines outside the bloc since its approval of new regulations regarding drugs made in the EU.
Australian Treasurer Simon Birmingham told Sky News that Italy’s decision was “a reminder of the desperation that exists in other parts of the world compared with the very good position we find ourselves in here in Australia.”
Australia has contracted 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, of which some 3.8 million were to be delivered in early 2021.
The remaining 50 million doses will be manufactured by local pharmaceutical company CSL Ltd.
The country kicked off its free and voluntary Covid-19 vaccination campaign on Feb. 21 with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Australia has recorded some 29,000 coronavirus cases so far, including 909 deaths.
It is currently seeing isolated infections among returnees and expects to vaccinate its entire population of 25 million before November in order to reopen its international borders. EFE-EPA