Brussels, Jan 31(Agency) The European Union has decided to impose export controls on COVID-19 vaccines manufactured inside the bloc from Saturday onwards. EU officials announced on Friday that manufacturers shipping vaccines to non-EU markets will now be required to get export authorization. Yesterday, the EU passed a regulation instructing its customs authorities to block all COVID-19 vaccine exports to about 100 nations of the world. The ruling will apply till the end of March.
Some exemptions will be made for countries covered under the COVAX program, a scheme designed to ensure a more equitable global distribution of vaccines. Expressing concern over vaccines not being delivered as per their agreed schedule European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said that protection and safety of EU citizens is a priority. Drug maker AstraZeneca had notified the EU last week that its initial vaccine shipments will be less than half the promised quantity.
The World Health Organisation(WHO)has made its displeasure clear regarding this measure by the EU. World Health Organization Assistant Director-General Mariangela Simao described the legislation as a “very worrying trend.” Politico quoted Simao saying that no product was manufactured in only one place, and it is “not helpful to have any country at this stage put in export bans or barriers that will not allow for the free movement of the necessary ingredients that will make vaccines.” Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr Tedros Adhanom also warned against the COVID-19 vaccine hoarding by some countries, he said that such practices could slow down global recovery from the pandemic and would be an impediment to economic recovery as well.