The European Commission has been accused by the Australian government of blocking the arrival of 3.1 million expected doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines, throwing the country’s inoculation schedule into disarray.
It’s not the first time that Brussels has sanctioned the blocking of life-saving jabs from heading Down Under, after the Italian government refused to authorise release of a shipment of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the drugmaker’s Anagni plant near Rome back in March.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison struck a diplomatic tone on Tuesday when he confirmed the missing shipments were responsible for the nation not meeting its vaccination schedule.
“In early January, we anticipated we would have the 3.1 million vaccines. Those vaccines were not supplied to Australia,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra. “That is the reason.”
However other government sources were more than happy to point the finger at Brussels.
“They’ve blocked 3.1 million shots so far,” said one Australian government source about the bloc, revealing they had received less than ten per cent of their expected order from Europe so far, with another 400,000 on the way.
“We haven’t given up hope but we’ve stopped counting them in our expected supplies,” the source added.
Federal Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud was even blunter: “We are 3 million short at the moment. We were 3 million short by the EU. They cut us short,” insisted the minister who revealed that domestic manufacturers were now attempting to make up the shortfall.
The Australian government had expected to have administered 4 million Covid-19 jabs by April but failed miserably to meet that target and have so far only reached 840,000 people.