Global Tug Of War Intensifies As Italy Blocks Vaccine Shipments To Australia
And in Canada, the leader of Ontario has said he is disappointed in the Biden administration's decision not to share vaccines with Canada. “I thought I’d see a little bit of a change with the administration, but again it’s every person for themselves out there,” Premier Doug Ford said.
The New York Times:
Desperate Italy Blocks Exports Of Vaccines Bound For Australia
Italy has blocked 250,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine from being flown to Australia, the government said on Thursday, making good on the European Union’s recent threats to clamp down on vaccine exports amid a global tug of war over desperately needed shots. The decision to stop the shipment by AstraZeneca was a sharp escalation in the competition for vaccines, one that has become ever more frantic as Europe confronts the early signs of a possible new wave of infections driven by new coronavirus variants. (Mueller and Stevis-Gridneff, 3/4)
Australia Asks EU To Stop Blocking Vaccine Exports
Australia is seeking assurances from the European Union’s executive arm that future shipments of vaccines will not be blocked, after Italy banned a large export of the AstraZeneca coronavirus shots. The shipment to Australia of more than a quarter-million doses was blocked from leaving the 27-nation bloc — the first use of an export control system instituted by the EU to make sure big pharma companies respect their EU contracts. (3/5)
In other global developments —
Ontario Leader Disappointed In Biden For Not Sharing Vaccine
The leader of Canada’s most populous province expressed irritation Thursday with the U.S. refusal to ship vaccines north of the border, saying he’d hoped for a change of stance with a new American president, but it remains “every person for themselves.” The U.S. so far isn’t allowing locally made vaccines to be exported, so Canada — like the other U.S. neighbor, Mexico — has been forced to get vaccines from Europe and Asia. “I thought I’d see a little bit of a change with the administration but again it’s every person for themselves out there,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said. (Gillies, 3/4)
Los Angeles Times:
Did Air Pollution Play Role In Italy's Big COVID Death Toll?
For decades, Bergamo and other picturesque cities in the Po River Valley in northern Italy have suffered some of the worst air quality in Europe. Pollution has long been considered a leading cause of cancer in the area, which is full of factories and highways crowded with trucks hauling commercial goods. Many of the homes are off the main gas grid, meaning that, in winter, wood-burning and pellet stoves release particulate matter into the stagnant air. Now, scientists are investigating whether one longstanding health crisis has played a role in making a new one worse. Early research suggests that long-term exposure to microscopic particles abundant in Bergamo’s dirty air — and that are also in Los Angeles’ — is associated with greater risk of death from COVID-19, which is, after all, a respiratory disease. (Brancolini, 3/5)
COVAX Offers Hope Of Vaccine Equality With Roll Out Across Africa
When Covid-19 vaccinations arrived in Kenya for the very first time this week, the country's health minister likened them to critical weapons of defense. "We have been fighting this virus, but we have been fighting it with rubber bullets," said Kenya's Minister of Health Mutahi Kagwe. "But what we have received here is equivalent, metaphorically speaking, to acquisition of machine guns, bazookas, and tanks to fight this war against Covid-19." (Gafas, 3/4)