Much of Europe is facing another coronavirus wave with cases rising sharply in central and eastern parts of the continent. Italy has announced a new national lockdown over Easter as well as a range of localised restrictions.
Thus far the EU has only vaccinated 9.1 percent of its population versus 35 percent for the UK.
On Saturday AstraZeneca, which produces the Oxford University designed vaccine, announced another reduction in vaccine supply.
In a statement, the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant said: “Unfortunately, export restrictions will reduce deliveries in the first quarter, and are likely to affect deliveries in the second quarter.”
AstraZeneca first announced it would be unable to produce as many vaccines as hoped in January causing fury in Brussels.
In response, the EU threatened to block vaccine exports to Britain, including imposing a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland but backed down after outrage in London and Dublin.
But, Brussels did permit its member states to block vaccines exports outside the EU.
The Italian government banned the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the country to Australia.
Australia responded by calling on the European Commission to review the decision.
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Data from England and Scotland indicates the Oxford vaccine is highly effective at preventing death and hospitalisation from coronavirus.
Parts of Europe are battling a fresh wave of coronavirus with new lockdown rules being imposed.
Italy has announced a new national shutdown over Easter from April 3 to 5.
From Monday schools, non-essential shops and restaurants will come into force for more than half the country.
Italians are being urged to work from home if they are able to do so.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi said: “I’m aware that today’s restrictions will have consequences on the education of your children, on the economy and on everyone’s mental health.
“But they’re necessary to avoid a worsening of the situation that would require even stricter measures.”
Hungary has also seen a rapid increase in cases as the coronavirus variant first discovered in Britain races across the continent.
Non-essential shops are to close for a fortnight with a night-time curfew imposed.
Speaking to Magyar Hang, a Hungarian news site, one doctor said: “We are increasingly faced with the situation when we have to decide to end life support for one patient in order to help another patient who may have a better chance of surviving.”