France said Friday it may follow Italy in blocking Covid-19 vaccine shipments after Rome invoked European Union (EU) powers to block the export of 250,000 Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Australia.
"Of course, I understand what Italy did," Véran said during an interview with CNN affiliate BFM on Friday. "We could do the same thing."
A spokesperson for Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told CNN that Italy and the European Commission had agreed on the action. This is the first time that such EU measures have been used for vaccines.
"We are closely discussing with Italians, as well as with all our European partners to have a European approach on the issue." Véran said.
"Since the first day, France has believed in a shared European approach," he added.
In late January, a public and acrimonious fight erupted between the EU and AstraZeneca over vaccine delays, after the company advised the bloc that it would deliver tens of millions fewer doses than agreed by the end of March.
The European Commission later adopted new measures giving member states the power to restrict the export of vaccines outside the bloc, in certain situations.
Italy has justified invoking the powers by citing AstraZeneca's delays in supplying its vaccine to Italy and the EU, and noting that Australia is not considered a "vulnerable" nation to Covid-19 by the EU.