Last week, Italy confirmed blocking a shipment of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine to Australia amid the continued spat with the Anglo-Swedish concern over delayed vaccine deliveries to the bloc. According to Rome, it acted in coordination with Brussels and in accordance with new EU regulations allowing exports to be stopped if a vaccine manufacturer has failed to meet its obligations to the bloc.
Tehan told the Australian broadcaster that he was "incredibly disappointed" by the bloc’s move. He unveiled plans to work with Canada, Japan, Norway and New Zealand to pressure the EU into abandoning this "vaccine protectionism."
"Hopefully they will change their mind. The more we can put collective pressure on them, the more they will realise what they are doing is wrong. I'll be seeking to make sure they get that message loud and clear," he added.
Defending the export block, Rome insists that Australia is not on the list of vulnerable countries, while the bloc is facing persistent vaccine delivery delays.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio reaffirmed last week that the EU will keep holding up vaccines from leaving the bloc until manufacturers deliver on their contract obligations to Europe.