Confusion reigned on Wednesday (March 24) after some 29 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines were reportedly found during an inspection at a plant in Italy over the weekend. The find comes ahead of an EU summit due to start on Thursday where the 27 EU members are set to discuss expanding existing measures that seek to ensure planned vaccine exports by drugmakers do not threaten already reduced EU supplies.
AstraZeneca said that some of the 29 million doses were destined for the EU and for donations to poorer countries via the COVAX scheme co-led by the World Health Organization.
A French official said on Wednesday should it be confirmed that these doses were to be exported, the question of blocking the shipment should be on the table. A German government source said if the doses have been discovered it could give the company that makes AstraZeneca the opportunity to boost deliveries to the EU.
An Italian official said on Wednesday the doses that were found at the Catalent production plant in Anagni, south east of the capital Rome, were bound for Belgium.
The checks on the plant were carried out by Italy’s Carabinieri military police between Saturday and Sunday.