The Government has secretly flown more than 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia despite a shortage of jabs in the UK, it has been claimed.

Australia’s vaccine rollout was boosted by a shipment from Britain that was kept quiet to avoid controversy, according to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said last month that vaccine shortages in Britain mean there will be no more first appointments for jabs booked in April amid growing chaos with supplies.

But the newspapers claim that 717,000 doses were sent to Australia after being manufactured in the UK rather than Europe, as was widely believed. 

Australia has entered the vaccine row with the European Union in recent weeks after the bloc placed tough export controls on jabs.

The Australian government received 300,000 UK-made doses at Sydney Airport on February 28, one month after the EU set up curbs on limiting vaccines being sent abroad.

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