UPDATE 1-Irish PM warns of 'trouble' in vaccine supply chain if EU blocks exports

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DUBLIN, March 22 (Reuters) - Any European Union restrictions on vaccine exports would be a “retrograde step” that could undermine the supply of raw materials for vaccine production, Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said on Monday.

Martin told Ireland’s RTE radio that representatives of vaccine-maker Moderna Inc had expressed concern to him that EU export restrictions on vaccines might affect its supply of raw materials for vaccine production.

“I am very much against it. I think it would be a very retrograde step,” Martin said when asked if he supported proposed export limits on COVID-19 vaccines produced in the European Union.

“If every country and every continent started doing that, we would be in right trouble globally and we would set it (global vaccine production) back,” Martin said.

Martin said he has spoken to senior executives with AstraZeneca Plc, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Inc and that all had expressed concern about the impact of an EU move on vaccine ingredient supply chains.

“Every company are saying this to us. They are very very worried,” Martin said.

He said Moderna and Johnson & Johnson had indicated they hoped to increase production, but that the plans would be dependent on the availability of ingredients.

Martin called on Britain to begin talks with the EU and must “reciprocate to some degree” in allowing AstraZeneca vaccine doses produced in the United Kingdom to be exported to the EU. (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Alison Williams and Jonathan Oatis)