Italy on Thursday blocked a shipment of an AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine that was destined for Australia, marking the first EU intervention since the bloc adopted rules to control vaccine exports outside the EU. 

The newly installed government of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi did not grant the British-Swedish drug manufacturer permission to ship around 250,000 doses from its Anagni plant to Australia, Reuters reported, citing two sources. 

The move, that was backed by the European Commission as the Financial Times reported, was based on a decision taken by the bloc on January 30, when the EU adopted measures to impose temporary controls on vaccine exports following a spat with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical, accusing the company of failing to meet its delivery commitments. 

The export controls mechanism is set to last until the end of March, giving power to member-states to reject exports to countries outside the EU, in a bid to tackle vaccine supplies shortages. 

Brussels has come under fire for what critics describe as a slow rollout of the Coronavirus vaccines, with the EU blaming it on supply issues with the drug manufacturers. 



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