Australia plans to build a “coalition of countries” to pressure the EU into delivering planned doses of coronavirus vaccines, local media reported.
Last Thursday, Italy decided to stop the shipment of more than 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses destined for Australia.
The European Commission defended Italy’s move, saying it was not targeting Australia but ensuring that AstraZeneca delivers the number of doses agreed with EU authorities.
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said he is “incredibly disappointed” by the decision, adding he plans to work with Canada, Japan, Norway and New Zealand to push the EU to change its mind.
“Hopefully they will change their mind. The more we can put collective pressure on them, the more they will realize what they are doing is wrong,” the country’s public broadcaster ABC news quoted Tehan as saying.
In a bid to force companies to meet their contract obligations, the EU announced in early January an export control mechanism that can halt deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines outside the bloc if the producers’ commitments are not met.
AstraZeneca almost halved its supplies to the EU in the first quarter of the year, and later said it would reduce deliveries by another 50% in the second quarter.
Struggling to move forward with their massive vaccination campaigns, many European countries are now facing scarcity of vaccine supplies, splitting over the possible solutions.
Some of them are trying to find extra supplies of vaccines outside the joint agreement set up by the EU, whose negotiating ability has been widely criticized.
Australia has so far secured 53.8 million doses of AstraZeneca, of which 50 million will be made locally, according to ABC.
The country has so far reported 29,061 cases with 909 deaths, according to the US’s Johns Hopkins University.
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