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Australian PM Calls on EU to Release 3.1mn Vaccine Doses

Australian PM Calls on EU to Release 3.1mn Vaccine Doses
folder_openAsia-Pacific... access_time 9 days ago
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By Staff, Agencies 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has asked the European Union to release a shipment of over 3 million coronavirus vaccine doses, after the bloc denied allegations from Canberra that it halted deliveries.

“3.1 million of the contracted vaccines that we had been relying upon in early January when we’d set out a series of targets did not turn up in Australia,” Morrison told reporters early on Wednesday, saying the missing doses, developed by AstraZeneca, “obviously had a very significant impact on the early rollout of the vaccination program.”

The Australian PM reiterated comments made by himself and a number of officials the day prior, casting blame on the EU for Australia’s lagging immunization drive. But with the bloc denying the accusations late on Tuesday, Morrison said he was “pleased to hear that the European Union overnight has indicated that they are not seeking to restrict these vaccines.”

He further added that he would “write, again, in parallel, both to AstraZeneca [and the EU], to seek the export licenses for the full amount of the doses, the 3.8 million, to be provided to Australia.”

During a Tuesday press conference, a European Commission spokeswoman said that the EU had rejected only one vaccine request out of nearly 500 in total since it tightened export rules in January – a shipment of 250,000 doses to Australia. She denied charges that it prevented millions of shots from arriving, however. 

Brussels has repeatedly said that AstraZeneca may be barred from certain exports until it meets its contractual obligations in Europe, while EU officials have argued they are not responsible for the company’s failure to meet its commitments.