ROME: a few hours later Italy’s new Prime Minister Mario Draghi has launched a wave of vaccine nationalism by blocking the export of manufactured vaccines to the eurozone, with several other European countries threatening to do the same.
Speaking on French television channel BFM on Friday morning, French Health Minister Olivier Véran applauded Italy’s decision to keep vaccines made in Europe at home and was threatened. “We could do the same,” he said. “The more doses France has, the happier I will be as Minister of Health. France has the right to meet with its European neighbors to ensure that laboratories respect their commitments and contracts. It sounds like common sense to me.
A spokesperson for Spain’s health ministry, which has several facilities critical to the global vaccine supply chain, also suggested on Friday looking into the destination of vaccines produced in that country.
Europe is the world’s largest producer of vaccine components, and the three main COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca) currently in use depend on companies to fill vials and distribute vaccines both in the euro area and outside, mainly in Canada. , Japan, Australia, UK and US Facilities in Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands are all critical links in the global supply chain and could all block exports under regulations put in place in the EU on January 30.
Italy’s first tactical move to deny a request to export 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca produced in Italy en route to Australia marks a new frontline in a vaccine war pitting big pharmaceutical companies against state-run health systems. The European Commission has approved the blockade, signaling that it will do so if other countries follow suit to keep more hits in Europe. A source in Draghi’s government told the Daily Beast that Italy has received assurances that the European Commission will support Italy. “Someone had to go first,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But Italy will not be the only country to protect its citizens in this way.”
According to a reading of a Appeal with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Draghi justified his actions, saying he “hoped to suffocate pharmaceutical companies” to pressure them to meet their EU delivery commitments vaccines.
In a statement to reporters, Italy’s Foreign Ministry explained that it had blocked the vials that were being prepared at the plant of New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Catalent in the Roman municipality of Anagni, citing delays in distribution in Italy and the rest of the EU. The statement also cited a discrepancy in “the high number of vaccine doses requested for export … compared to the quantity of doses supplied to Italy and, more generally, to EU countries up to present ”.
Catalent produces about 1 million doses of Moderna per day, according to a company spokesperson. Currently, most of these are distributed inside the eurozone, but the Italian Foreign Ministry must also approve all foreign exports of this vaccine.
The ministry also said the doses were headed to Australia where they would be distributed to people the EU classifies as “non-vulnerable” under current regulations, while depriving vulnerable people in Italy and the EU of the protection against deadly virus. Australia, with a population of 25 million, has recorded around 25,000 cases of COVID-19 and 900 deaths. Italy, on the other hand, has a population of 60 million and has so far recorded nearly 3 million cases and 99,000 deaths. Italy recorded 22,865 new infections on Thursday while Australia had less than a dozen.
The European Commission put in place the framework to block exports of COVID-19 vaccines produced in Europe on January 30, as the vaccine battle that has largely targeted the British-made AstraZeneca vaccine escalated. EU regulations require vaccine manufacturers to obtain permission from countries where vaccines are physically produced before exporting them.
Due to Brexit, the UK no longer has automatic trade relations with the EU and has therefore engaged various vaccine manufacturers based in Europe to help them produce the AstraZeneca vaccines sold to European countries. But the British company has not kept its delivery promises and will only deliver 40 million of the first 100 million doses ordered by the EU by the end of March, a move that has significantly compromised the deployment of vaccines. across Europe, risking a deadly third wave. of the pandemic.
The EU has vaccinated just over five percent of its citizens compared to over 30 percent of the UK population who received at least the first vaccine.
The World Health Organization has condemned Italy’s move, calling it a “worrying trend” that could jeopardize global supply chains for coveted vaccines as the EU is one of the most major vaccine producers. The ban has no impact on vaccines distributed to poor countries under the COVAX plan, the Italian foreign ministry confirmed.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday the blocked vials would not affect the vaccine rollout in the country, which is only just beginning. “In Italy, people are dying at the rate of 300 a day. And so I can certainly understand the high level of anxiety that would exist in Italy and in many countries in Europe, ”he said in a press release. “They are in a situation of frantic crisis. This is not the situation in Australia. “
#tells #Italy #supports #war #vaccine #nationalism