The European Union on Thursday extended until the end of June its vaccine export control mechanism.

The transparency and authorization mechanism on COVID-19 vaccines was introduced in January to determine whether a pharmaceutical company, which signed an Advance Purchase Agreement with the bloc, has already delivered the jabs before granting export permit.

Over the past two months, the European Commission authorized 249 export permits that delivered in total 34 million jabs to 31 countries, the European Commission said in a statement.

The export permit was denied in only one case when Italy denied the shipment of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia.

The scheme was introduced after persistent delays in some of the delivery of vaccines to the EU.

The EU signed Advance Purchase Agreements with six vaccine producers — Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, CureVac, Johnson & Johnson, and Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline — to purchase about 2.6 billion vaccine doses.

The export control mechanism aims at protecting the interest of EU citizens since the bloc invested €3.8 billion ($4.6 billion) to support research and developments of jabs to secure priority.

The European Commission’s vaccine strategy suggests EU member states immunize at least 70% of the adult population by summer.

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