Europe hits back at Scott Morrison over claim it stopped three million Covid vaccines going to Australia – as 2.5million jabs sit idle in Melbourne
The European Union has hit back at claims from the Morrison government that it stopped three million Covid vaccines from heading to Australia.
Scott Morrison on Tuesday said the country’s vaccination program – which was supposed to inoculate four million Australians by now – was well behind schedule because 3.1million jabs had not arrived from Europe.
Only 854,983 vaccines have been given out so far, with 2.5 million doses made at a factory in Melbourne sitting in cold storage awaiting testing.
Workers at CSL in Melbourne roll out onto a truck the first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 24
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud appeared to accuse the European Union of blocking AstraZeneca jabs from leaving Europe, saying: ‘They cut us short’.
But the EU on Tuesday night said it only stopped one small shipment of 250,000 vaccines from leaving Italy for Australia in March.
Spokesman Eric Mamer told a press conference the blocked shipment was of ‘much smaller quantities which dates now back quite some time and there has been no further development since then.
‘So we certainly cannot confirm any new decision to block vaccine exports to Australia or to any other country for that matter,’ he added.
Even though only one shipment was blocked, 3.1million contracted doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have not arrived in Australia due to production issues at factories in Europe.
The Anglo-Swedish company has been struggling to meet demand and fulfill its contracts with several countries, with EU officials accusing it of ‘over-selling its production capacity.’
Scott Morrison on Tuesday said the country’s vaccination program was well behind schedule because 3.1million jabs had not arrived from Europe
Mr Morrison said on Tuesday: ‘In early January, we had anticipated we would have those 3.1 million vaccines,’ he said.
‘Those 3.1 million vaccines were not supplied to Australia, and that explains the difference between the numbers.
‘We made that very clear back in February, and we made it very clear that they were indicative figures we were working to at that time.’