“This was not a one-off case,” Leiena told Wirtschaftswoche in an interview about the blockade of vaccine exports from Italy to Australia.
Italy revealed last week that it had blocked the export of 250,700 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to Australia, saying there was a shortage of vaccines in Europe but not urgently needed in Australia.
Leiena, defending Italy, said the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca had supplied less than 10% of the doses ordered by the EU between December and March.
The company has reduced its first-quarter deliveries from 80 million to 40 million doses, due to production problems.
EU-produced vaccines were suspected of being sold to countries outside the bloc, which in turn led to the establishment of an export register.
The mechanism allows national authorities, in consultation with the European Commission, to block exports from the EU if the bloc considers that the company is not complying with the agreement.
Italy is the first country to use this mechanism.
“We are in favor of this European approach, which is different from the American approach when it comes to production, for example,” Zeibert said.
Leiena told Stuttgarter Nachrichten that the EU expects 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine a month from April.
According to official EU data, by 26 February, the EU, with a population of 446 million, had received 51.5 million doses of vaccine.
To date, vaccination has been carried out with three EU-approved vaccines: Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.
The European Medicines Agency is expected to recommend the US manufacturer’s Johnson & Johnson vaccine for approval on Thursday.
Last week, the agency began evaluating Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V.