UK quietly ‘sends Australia more than 700,000 AstraZeneca Covid vaccine doses’

Tammy Hughes
·1-min read
<p>The Sydney Opera House </p> (AP)

The Sydney Opera House

(AP)

More than 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been quietly flown to Australia from Britain amid concerns of shortages in the UK, according to reports. 

The first 300,000 British-made doses landed at Sydney airport on February 28, a month after the European Commission adopted curbs on the export of vaccines produced in the EU, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. 

Another large batch arrived on an Emirates passenger plane in March, after Italy and the European Commission formally blocked an application by AstraZeneca to ship 250,000 doses to Australia.

The paper cited an unidentified British official as saying the shipments to Australia were never at the expense of Britain’s vaccine rollout.

Watch: Provinces, doctors struggle with AstraZeneca vaccine concerns

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, on Thursday morning, did not deny the 717,000 doses manufactured in the UK had been sent to Australia but said it was not the Government who made the shipment.

Last month Mr Hancock said vaccine shortages in the UK would mean no more first jab appointments in April. 

Australia is currently embroiled in a vaccine row with the EU who have imposed strict export controls on jabs.

Ministers claim Australia is owed more than 3.1 million doses and urged Brussels to approve the shipments.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to comment. A second source said Australia was reluctant to confirm or deny the report.

“For reasons of supply chain integrity and national security, we do not advise the origins of particular vaccine shipments,” said the source.

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