The European Union’s fight against Covid-19 is stuck in midwinter, even as spring and vaccinations spur hope of improvement in the U.S. and U.K.
Despite months of restrictions on daily life, new Covid-19 cases have been rising again in the EU since mid-February, as more-virulent virus strains outpace vaccinations.
By contrast, virus infections and deaths have been falling rapidly in the U.S. and U.K. since January as inoculations take off among the elderly and other vulnerable groups. U.S. infections and deaths, which were higher on a per capita basis for most of 2020, have fallen below the EU’s.
Author(s): Marcus Walker in Rome, Bertrand Benoit in Berlin and Stacy Meichtry in Paris
Italy blocked the export of AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine to Australia, in a move coordinated with European Union authorities, reflecting mounting frustration in Europe with slow deliveries of vaccines.
The move was prompted by the persisting shortage of vaccines in Italy and the EU, delays in the supply of vaccines by AstraZeneca and the fact that Australia is considered a “nonvulnerable country” to Covid-19 under EU regulations, Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The decision affects 250,700 doses, a number the ministry said was high compared with what has been delivered so far by AstraZeneca. The doses were bottled at a factory near Rome that is part of the company’s supply chain. AstraZeneca has delivered around 1.5 million doses to Italy, according to the government.