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EU, Italy Block AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Shipment To Australia

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AstraZeneca's efforts to supply Covid-19 vaccine doses from its Italian unit to Australia has been blocked by the European Union and the Italian Government, citing Australia being non-vulnerable region and delays in domestic supply, among others.

In a statement, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that Italy's proposal to deny AstraZeneca's request for authorization to export COVID-19 vaccines was subsequently approved by the European Commission. The Ministry then formally issued the export denial order.

It was on February 24 that the Italian Ministry received AstraZeneca's request for export authorization concerning 250,700 doses of vaccine.

The Ministry noted that it has approved AstraZeneca's previous authorization requests for small quantities of samples intended for scientific research activities, in agreement with the Commission. However, the latest request was for comparably higher doses.

According to the Italian Ministry, Australia, the country of destination of the supply, is considered "non-vulnerable", within the meaning of the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/111.

The ongoing shortage of vaccines in the EU and Italy and the delays in the supply of vaccines by AstraZeneca to the EU and Italy was particularly the reason for the denial of permission.

The Ministry also noted that the large number of vaccine doses referred to in the request for export authorization compared to the quantity of doses so far supplied to Italy and, more generally, to EU countries.

It said, "Therefore, the Foreign Ministry, after consulting with the other competent Italian Authorities - all of which expressed a negative opinion - sent a non-authorisation proposal to the European Commission, on 26 February, which, according to the Regulation, has the final say given that the Member State decides in accordance with the Commission's opinion."

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