EU plans tougher controls on vaccine exports

The European Commission has proposed tougher controls on Covid vaccine exports after it accused UK-Swedish firm AstraZeneca of failing to honour its contract to supply EU countries.

The plans, to go before EU leaders on Thursday, stop short of a ban but could enflame tensions with the UK.

Any shipment would be assessed on the destination country’s rate of vaccinations and vaccine exports.

Meanwhile, millions of AZ doses have reportedly been found in Italy.

The reported discovery comes weeks after the Italian government blocked the export of 250,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia, as part of new EU regulations allowing a shipment to be stopped if a company is seen as failing to meet its obligations to the 27 member states.

As infections rise across Europe, member states are trying to speed up Covid vaccination campaigns after a sluggish start, blamed partly on delayed deliveries of the AZ drug as well as safety checks.

Germany had announced a strict five-day lockdown over Easter, but in a dram announcement on Wednesday Chancellor Angela Merkel called it off after talks with state leaders. “This mistake is my mistake alone,” she said, explaining that it had been decided with the best of intentions.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday that on average 170,000 daily vaccinations had been carried out this month and that the objective was to increase that to half a million. 

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