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Italy blocks shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine meant for Australia: report

Italy blocks shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine meant for Australia: report
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Italy is reportedly blocking the export of a shipment of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines to Australia due to the company’s failure to deliver all its promised doses to the European Union.

Two sources told Reuters for a report published Thursday that the decision is backed by the European Commission.

AstraZeneca had wanted Italy to send Australia 250,000 doses of the vaccine from a plant near Rome, sources told Reuters. But the EU gave countries the right to block shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed in coordination with Oxford University, after disputes erupted since the company could not deliver on the promised amount of vaccine doses.

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Back in January, AstraZeneca cut back its previously promised 80 million doses to 31 million. The reduction came at a time when the EU was already being accused of having a slow vaccine rollout.

In response, the European Commission told countries they were allowed to block shipments of the vaccine. 

The Hill has reached out to AstraZeneca for further comment.

Countries are racing to vaccinate their populations as inoculation is seen as key to reopening businesses and getting back to pre-pandemic economic conditions. 

AstraZeneca's vaccine has not yet been approved for use in the U.S. The three vaccines currently available in America are from drugmakers Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and most recently Johnson & Johnson.