In late January, the EC introduced strict export controls which were further expanded on March 24.
In late January, mid to late January, AstraZeneca provided updated advice that only 1.2m of the 3.2m offshore manufactured product could be delivered in February and in March. That was 500,000 in February and 700,000 in March.
That was because a range of issues, which included not just the vaccine shortage in Europe and AstraZeneca’s awareness of the increasing restrictions on export controls, and so applications were not made for those 3.8m doses.
In fact, an application was made for 500,000 doses to be released. And in February, that application was made. Those 500,000 doses were being manufactured in Italy. On February 19 minister Hunt called the EU health minister to advocate for the release of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia. On February 20, AstraZeneca was advised by the European Commission to withdraw their application and submit a revised application for 250,000 doses manufactured in Italy …
Consequently, an application was made for 250,000 doses out of what was to be 500,000 doses, and on March 3 the European Union denied export of those 250,000 doses to Australia.
On March 15, Minister Hunt wrote to them to review their decision to deny exports of vaccines to Australia. On March 17 I wrote to the president of the EC requesting the export of 1m doses from our original 3.8m which were originally for Australia, to make sure that we could make available to Papua New Guinea to deal with the humanitarian crisis that was emerging in that country. We have still not received any response to that request.
Minister Hunt wrote to AstraZeneca Global to request them to resubmit their export application to the EC for further doses and we have been seeking further calls with the president of the EC to discuss these matters. Now, I am pleased to hear that the European Union overnight has indicated that they are not seeking to restrict these vaccines to Australia.