Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has asked Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, purchased by Canberra, to be redirected to Papua New Guinea, the Australian mission to the EU told POLITICO Wednesday.
“While we didn’t include a deadline in the letter to von der Leyen, we hope to receive a reply from her team soon in order to deal with the worsening humanitarian situation in [Papua New Guinea],” an Australian diplomat separately told POLITICO.
Australia would need permission from the EU and AstraZeneca to do so, given the contractual requirements, the diplomat added.
The Commission didn’t immediately respond for comment.
The request from Canberra comes as coronavirus cases in Papua New Guinea have grown exponentially over the last two weeks, according to The Guardian.
The Australian government also issued a statement today saying it has “agreed to a request for assistance and will partner with Papua New Guinea on a comprehensive support package to help it respond to the crisis.”
On top of requesting permission for EU-ordered doses to be redirected to Papua New Guinea, the proposal also includes sending 8,000 Oxford/AstraZeneca doses from Australia’s stock.
The issue remains a sensitive one, however. In early March, Italy blocked a shipment of 250,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia. Australian diplomats said at the time it wasn’t helpful for trade relations, but that they understood the greater need for vaccines in the EU than in Australia, which has fared much better than Europe in containing the virus.
To date, there have been 29,153 cases and 909 deaths in Australia. In the last 24 hours, there were 17 new reported cases, according to government figures.
Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/australian-pm-seeks-commissions-ok-to-send-coronavirus-vaccines-to-papua-new-guinea/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication