Italian police found a stockpile of 29 million AstraZeneca vaccines last weekend in US company Catalent’s factory in Anagni, central Italy, where the ‘fill and finish’ of the doses produced in Europe is done, as revealed by newspaper La Stampa on Wednesday.
The doses were found after an inspection requested by the EU and ordered by Prime Minister Mario Draghi. It was stated that the doses produced in the Netherlands would be destined for the United Kingdom.
However, AstraZeneca argued that, of the doses found, 16 million were destined for the European market and 13 million were to be exported to low-income countries on the basis of the COVAX initiative, promoted by the WHO, the New York Times reported. This was also confirmed by the EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton.
Speaking before parliament on the eve of the European Council summit, PM Draghi said that “as the vaccination campaign proceeds, it is good to plan the reopening”, starting with primary schools.
In Europe “there is much talk of strategic autonomy, in reference to security and the single market, but today the first strategic autonomy is that of vaccines,” Draghi commented, adding that “the pandemic makes clear the opportunity to invest in vaccine production capacity in Europe.”
“We need to build a supply chain that is not vulnerable to external shocks and decisions. And we have already started to establish partnership agreements with international production companies in Italy,” the new PM added.
As for the ‘green pass’ project, “freedom of movement” must go “hand in hand with health protection”, said Draghi. (Daniele Lettig | EURACTIV.it)