Authorities discovered 29 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in a facility in Italy on Wednesday, prompting some further tension between the European Union and the company amid the bloc’s attempts to restrict vaccine exports.
EU officials told The New York Times that Italian authorities uncovered the stash of doses during a visit to a site near Rome that is being used to produce AstraZeneca vaccines for the 27-nation bloc. The Italian daily La Stampa first reported on the stockpile.
Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi said some of the batches, which can have 1 million doses each, were taken and two batches were sent to Belgium, Reuters reported.
The European Commission had informed the Italian authorities that there was an inconsistency in data between the number of doses AstraZeneca said it was developing in the EU and the amount that the production facilities were reporting.
The Times reported that the discovery sparked concerns among EU officials that AstraZeneca was attempting to export the doses abroad despite the EU’s restrictions to prevent the company from doing so until it provides the promised doses for the bloc.