By Giovanni Legorano 

ROME -- Italy blocked the export of AstraZeneca PLC's Covid-19 vaccines to Australia, according to people familiar with the matter, in a move coordinated with European Union authorities, reflecting mounting frustration in Europe with slow deliveries of vaccines.

The move was prompted by the unsatisfactory compliance by the drug supplier with supply contracts, one of the people said.

Due to the current shortage of vaccine doses in the EU, it made sense to keep the shots in Italy, the person said. The 250,000 affected doses were bottled at a factory near Rome that is part of AstraZeneca's supply chain.

Representatives for AstraZeneca declined to comment.

The move is the first known use of a new EU policy that allows controls to be imposed on the export of Covid-19 vaccines.

In accordance with the EU policy, AstraZeneca had asked the Italian government for permission to export the doses. Rome refused and the European Commission supported the Italian government's decision, the people familiar with the matter said.

--Jenny Strasburg and Laurence Norman contributed to this article.

Write to Giovanni Legorano at giovanni.legorano@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 04, 2021 12:01 ET (17:01 GMT)

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