- SKY NEWS - Mar 5, 2021 -
The EU has used an export control mechanism for the first time to prevent doses being shipped before they are given to the bloc.
Italy and the European Commission have blocked a shipment of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine destined for Australia.
The British-Swedish drug manufacturer had failed to meet its EU contract commitments so the Italian government refused its request to export 250,000 doses from its Anagni plant near Rome.
Italy made the request and it was signed off by the European Commission under a new export control system that came into law on 30 January. This is the first time it has been used by a member state.
A statement from the Italian foreign ministry said: "The Italian proposal to deny the authorisation was approved by the European Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs then formally issued the export denial order on the same day."
Other reasons cited by Italy for blocking the shipment include that Australia is considered "not vulnerable" because of a low number of COVID cases; a shortage of vaccines both in Italy and the EU and the high number of doses included in the shipment.