Canberra: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday called on the European Union (EU) to release doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
Morrison said that delays to Australia’s vaccine rollout were a matter of “straightforward maths” with AstraZeneca blocked from exporting more than 3 million doses, reports Xinhua news agency.
“It’s straightforward maths – 3.1 million out of 3.8 million doses did not come to Australia,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“That obviously had a very significant impact on the early rollout of the vaccination program, until we got into a position when the domestically produced AstraZeneca vaccine would be in place.”
Earlier the European Commission said that only 250,000 doses of the vaccines had been formally blocked.
In response, the Australian government said in a statement that the Commission was “arguing semantics”.
Morrison has previously announced that 1 million of the vaccines will be redirected to Papua New Guinea (PNG) if they are allowed to leave Europe.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister said he would write to the EC asking that they be exported.
Morrison was joined by Brendan Murphy, the Secretary of the Department of Health, who said that the domestic production of AstraZeneca vaccines was continuing to escalate but had not reached the goal of manufacturing 1 million doses per week.
So far about 920,334 vaccines had been administered in Australia, short of the government’s initial target of 4 million by the end of March.