Italy's halting of a shipment of over 250,000 AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccine doses to Australia was "a first signal" that they can't be exported to "non-vulnerable” countries when they are in short supply in Europe, foreign minister Luigi Di Maio said on Thursday.
"Italy has given a first signal that vaccines can't be sent to non-vulnerable countries when in Europe many pharmaceutical companies are not honouring their commitments," Di Maio said.
"Vaccines produced on Italian soil and elsewhere in Europe cannot be authorised unless all the doses that have been agreed to by contract are supplied," he added.
AstraZeneca angered EU officials in January when it said it would significantly cut its planned February and March deliveries to member nations. The EU officials accused the Anglo-Swedish company of sending doses to Britain that had been pledged to the EU - in breach of contractual obligations.