Yesterday, the Italian government blocked a shipment of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from being shipped to Australia. They said that because Australia had so few coronavirus cases, they did not need the vaccines and that they should be used in Europe, where there is a great need.
Italy is the first European Union country to use the bloc’s new regulations allowing exports to be stopped if the companies providing the vaccines have failed to meet its obligations to the European Union.
These export controls, which have been widely criticised as a dangerous example of “vaccine nationalism”, were hurriedly drawn up in January in Europe after vaccine manufacturers warned supply to Europe over coming months would be slashed because of production delays.
Fortunately, the blockage of this vaccine shipment should have little impact on the Australian coronavirus vaccine program. The AstraZeneca vaccine's domestic production starts at 1 million per week of deliveries from late March and is on track. Along with the 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, then we will have more than enough doses to vaccine every Australian who wants the vaccine.
It appears that Australia’s strategy to manufacture locally and have multiple agreements for overseas acquisition is paying off.