“We had anticipated a problem like this may arise, and prepared accordingly”: Australian PM Morrison

Australian PM Morrison (Reuters/File Photo)

Canberra, Australia:

The Italian Government, on Thursday, blocked a planned shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia. The decision by Italy, backed by the European Commission blocked a shipment of around 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine after the drug manufacturer failed to meet its European Union contract commitments.

The EU had signed a deal with AstraZeneca in August for 300 million doses, with an option for 100 million more, however, owing to production delays, the EU is expecting only 40 million doses by end of March – a huge shortfall to its prior commitment.

The Australian government on Friday expressed frustration at Italy’s decision to block a shipment of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, but stressed it would not affect the rollout of Australia’s inoculation program.

Talking about the Australian Government’s timely decision to have their own domestically produced vaccine, Australian PM Morrison said the government had “always anticipated” that a problem like this may arise.

Australia has begun its AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination program from South Australia on Friday. It had received 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine on Sunday, 28th February, 2021.

Australia has ordered 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed in conjunction with the University of Oxford. Local pharmaceutical company CSL Ltd has secured the rights to manufacture 50 million of those doses in Australia.

Federal Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy said the CSL facility in Melbourne was on track, and the first locally produced doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines could be available in just over two weeks.