Italy blocks export of Covid-19 vaccine doses to Australia, using EU powers for the first time
Italy has invoked European Union powers to block the export of 250,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to Australia, in a dramatic escalation of a dispute between the EU and drug giant AstraZeneca. The country’s move marks the first time the powers have been used.
Italy used the powers to prevent AstraZeneca from exporting 250,000 doses on Thursday, a spokesperson for Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told CNN on Thursday.
Paola Ansuini said Italy and the European Commission had agreed on the action. The move was first reported by the Financial Times.
In late January the EU engaged in a public and acrimonious fight with AstraZeneca over vaccine delays, after the company advised the bloc that it would deliver tens of millions fewer doses than agreed by the end of March.
The EU’s vaccine rollout has continued to falter. Only 5.5% of the 27-nation bloc’s population of 447 million has received a first vaccine dose, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Some increasingly frustrated member states have turned to nations outside the trade bloc for assistance.
CNN is seeking comment from AstraZeneca.
This is a breaking story, more to follow….