Hundreds of thousands of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were flown to Australia from Britain, but the source of the shipments was kept under wraps to avoid controversy in Britain, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
As countries rush to vaccinate their populations against the coronavirus, the export of vaccines is in dispute wherever large numbers of people wait for a shot. The European Union, hit by delays in vaccine supply, introduced export controls on EU-produced vaccines in January.
The Sydney Morning Herald said more than 700,000 vaccines flown to Australia had been manufactured in Britain and not in Europe as it was widely believed. The shipments arrived after the EU introduced restrictions on vaccine exports, he said.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said his government had not sent any vaccines to Australia and all exports that had taken place were with the companies concerned.
“In terms of what companies do, these companies manufacture for the whole world,” Hancock told Sky News.
“What matters to us as the UK government is to make sure we get the supplies we have contracted from companies.”
A spokesperson for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to comment.
The newspaper quoted an unidentified UK official as saying that shipments to Australia have never come at the expense of deploying vaccines to the UK – one of the fastest in the world.
In March, the European Commission blocked the shipment of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia, and Morrison blamed the EU for delays in his country’s vaccination program.
Britain has given 31.7 million people a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths have all declined in recent weeks.
Israel is the world leader in vaccinating its population against COVID-19, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Chile, Britain, the United States, Bahrain, Serbia and Hungary, according to Our World in Data.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)