Mon, 12 Apr 2021

CANBERRA, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Italy's move to block coronavirus vaccine exports to Australia will not slow down the country's vaccine rollout, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said.

A shipment of 250,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines bound for Australia from Rome was on Friday delayed after Italy imposed export controls amid a contract dispute between the pharmaceutical giant and the European Union.

In response Morrison said on Friday afternoon that the Australian government had "always anticipated" supply problems and acknowledged that the pandemic situation in Italy was different to that in Australia.

"That's why we've done a number of things, the most significant of which is to ensure that we have our own domestically produced vaccine," he told reporters after a meeting of the National Cabinet, which is composed of the prime minister and state and territory leaders.

"This particular shipment was not one we had counted on for the rollout, and so we will continue unabated."

Australia has agreed to acquire 53.8 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, 50 million of which will be made locally.

Brendan Murphy, the secretary of the Department of Health, announced on Friday that the first locally-produced doses of the vaccine would be in the week starting on March 22.

Australia's first dose of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine has been administered in South Australia (SA).

Caroline Phegan, a General Practitioner, on Friday morning became the first Australian to receive the vaccine that most of the country will get.

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