As expected, Italy’s decision to block 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine destined for Australia, in compliance with the notification and authorization mechanism for the export of anti-Covid vaccines outside the EU, created at the end of January by the European Commission. Brussels has expressed full support for Italy, reiterating that the measure is not against Australia but against the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca which is not respecting the deliveries foreseen in the contract signed with the EU. It was also recalled that “the EU is an important exporter of anti-Covid vaccines”, In one month, 174 deliveries were made to thirty countries. AstraZeneca Italia CEO Lorenzo Wittum, in an interview with ClassCnbc, he said that the company understands the decision “perfectly” “also considering the situation we have in Europe” and reiterated “the total commitment to supply the quantities we have foreseen for the EU”.
France also expressed support for Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s decision. “We could do the same. We will see », Health Minister Olivier Véran warned a BfmTV, saying they “understand” Rome. According to the German Health Minister Jens Spahn, drug manufacturers “must honor contracts”, but they must also assess the possible impact on the entire supply chain. He recalled that it is “a European regulation” and that Germany does not produce vaccines, “so we have not had, to date, reason not to approve the deliveries of doses outside Europe”.
Criticisms, on the other hand, came from Great Britain, which is also practicing the blocking of the doses of AstraZeneca produced in its own territory. However, Downing Street did not explicitly mention the Italian decision. “The global recovery from Covid is based on international collaboration,” said a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson quoted by Reuters. “We are all dependent on global supply chains: putting restrictions in place undermines global efforts to fight the virus“. London recalled having received reassurances from Brussels following the activation of the export control mechanism: “We expect the European Union to continue to respect its commitments”, concluded the spokesman.
For its part Australia, which is not in an emergency situation, has shown understanding: Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he understood “the high level of anxiety in Italy and in many countries throughout Europe”. Nervousness has however leaked from other members of the government. Health Minister Greg Hunt said Canberra has asked the Commission to review the decision, but Brussels has made it known that it has not received any formal requests. The Minister of Commerce, Dan Tehan, had a conversation already planned with the owner of the Trade, the Vice-President of the Commission Valdis Dombrovskis: they “discussed the authorization mechanism”.
March 5, 2021 (change March 5, 2021 | 22:26)