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Around 20 mins ago the FT reported that the Italian gov't has blocked the export of 250k doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University to Australia, the first such action taken under the restrictions imposed by the Commission in January.
- FT story states that the Italian gov't informed the Commission of its intention to block the vaccine export late last week and Brussels did not object.
- There has been no official comment yet from the Commission, AZ, or either the Italian or Australian gov'ts.
- This is the latest sign of the ongoing 'vaccine nationalism' crisis that is affecting international relations. In late-Jan the EU caused outrage in the UK and Ireland by seeking to impose a hard border on the island of Ireland to block vaccine exports from the EU to the UK (this decision was swiftly reversed). Now the EU is risking relations with Australia - a country that has very few COVID-19 cases but is also far behind the EU - an international laggard in itself - in its vaccination programme.