Australia on Tuesday said it had not yet received more than 3 million doses of previously promised AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses amid export curbs by the European Union, leaving a major hole in its early nationwide inoculation drive.
Authorities had pledged to administer at least 4 million first doses of the vaccine by end-March, but could only vaccinate 670,000 after the European Union blocked AstraZeneca vaccine exports to Australia in the wake of the drugmaker’s failure to meet its shipment pledge to the bloc.
“We were scheduled to have received over 3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from overseas by now, which have not arrived in Australia because of the problems with shipments that we’ve seen happening here and in other parts of the world,” Acting Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told Sky News.
Australia began vaccinations much later than some other countries due to low case numbers, recording just under 29,400 COVID-19 cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. But the AstraZeneca dose delay leaves it struggling to step up the pace of its vaccination drive.
The majority of Australia’s near 26 million population will be administered the AstraZeneca vaccine.