Last week, the Swedish-British pharmaceutical company asked the Italian government to allow the export of 250,000 doses of the vaccine from its plant near Rome to Australia. The Italian government rejected the request, and the European Commission backed it, arguing that the company had failed to fulfill its delivery obligations to EU member states. The decision was made within the framework of the export control mechanism established at the end of January to monitor the trade in vaccines against the Coronavirus. In this regard, the European Commission has already approved at least 150 export requests, and this was the first refusal. Then Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he understood the decision, because the epidemic in Europe, specifically in Italy, was much worse than it was in Australia, but he asked the European Union to reconsider.
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan described the European decision on Tuesday as a “vaccine protection” and said he was concerned that it could happen in the future. He said that was the reason why the country wanted to join forces with Canada, Japan, Norway and New Zealand to put pressure on the European Union.
According to local media reports, Tehan has already discussed the matter with the union and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The so-called Ottawa Group, a group of WTO members led by Canada and the European Union a member, will play a major role in lobbying.
The minister said he is also concerned that Australia will find it more difficult to help vaccinate smaller countries in the region, which may find it more difficult to fight for cargoes, due to a lack of transportation.
Australia has so far received 300,000 doses of the vaccine from AstraZeneca, and vaccination with the vaccine began on Friday. According to official estimates, this batch, as well as the shipment from Pfizer, will continue until domestic production increases at the end of March. It is expected that a total of fifty million doses of the vaccine will be manufactured in Australia and that a large proportion of the adult population will be vaccinated by the end of October.
NETUCIP: AstraZeneca PLC