Australia still waiting for 3 million AstraZeneca doses from overseas

Sydney, April 6, (dpa/GNA) - Australia is still waiting for more than 3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that should have already arrived under its contracts, the country's acting chief medical officer said Tuesday.

Michael Kidd said the slow rollout of the coronavirus vaccine campaign was in part due to supply issues from overseas.

"We have had problems with vaccine supply from overseas - over 3 million doses of the overseas AstraZeneca vaccine which was contracted to arrive in Australia by now, has not arrived in Australia," Kidd told broadcaster Channel Nine's Today Show.

The European Union halted the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca shots due to leave Italy for Australia in early March, using a new mechanism to ban exports heading out of the bloc if it believes a manufacturer has not fulfilled its agreements to EU countries.

It has since tightened up controls even further.

Kidd did not point to the bloc explicitly but a day earlier, agriculture minister David Littleproud said Australia was "3 million short by the EU."

Health Minister Greg Hunt has blamed the slow start for the country's campaign on supply chain issues and said locally made AstraZeneca doses should speed up the drive.

Australia had aimed to administer 4 million jabs by the end of March, but has given almost 842,000 vaccine doses since it kicked off its campaign more than a month ago, news agency AAP reported Monday.

The nation of around 25 million people has recorded some 29,000 coronavirus cases and just over 900 Covid-19 deaths since the pandemic began.