COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – American pharmaceutical company Pfizer PFE,
confirmed on Friday that it would temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe of its COVID-19 vaccine while increasing its production capacity to 2 billion doses per year.
“This temporary reduction will affect all European countries,” a spokeswoman for Pfizer Denmark said in a statement to The Associated Press.
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Line Fedders said that in order to reach the new target of 2 billion doses, Pfizer is increasing production at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, which “involves adapting the plant’s facilities and processes, which requires new quality tests and approvals from authorities.
“As a result, fewer doses will be available for European countries in late January and early February,” she said.
Germany’s health ministry said on Friday that Pfizer had informed the European Commission, responsible for ordering vaccines from the company, that it would not be able to honor all promised deliveries within the next three to four weeks. .
The ministry said German officials took note of the Commission’s unexpected announcement “with regret” as the company had made binding delivery commitments in mid-February.
“Federal and state governments expect the European Commission to provide clarity and certainty as soon as possible in negotiations with Pfizer on deliveries and additional delivery dates,” the statement said.
The Commission sealed the vaccine contracts on behalf of the 27 Member States, but is not responsible for timing and deliveries.
Asked on Friday whether Brussels had been made aware by Pfizer of delays in the EU, Commission health policy spokesperson Stefan de Keersmaecker said all questions about production and capacity production should be directed to the company.
“The Commission is ready to support and facilitate contacts between the company and the Member States whenever necessary,” he said.
De Keersmaecker said that deliveries are made on the basis of order forms and specific contracts between Member States and companies.
“The specifics of these arrangements are set out in these purchase orders or contracts,” he said.
The Commission has obtained up to 600 million additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine produced in partnership with the German BioNTech.
Norwegian authorities also said on Friday that they had been informed by Pfizer of the reduction which will begin next week as the company raises its current annual dose target of 1.3 billion.
“We predicted 43,875 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine in week 3. It now looks like we were receiving 36,075 doses,” said Geir Bukholm, director of infection control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
“The stock we currently have will be able to compensate for a reduction in deliveries scheduled for a few weeks to come if necessary,” he said.
In Finland, broadcaster YLE said the delay would lead to problems with delivery to the domestic market in late January and early February.
“We expect this to mean that in the times to come we will be able to vaccinate less than initially thought,” said Henrik Ullum, director of the Statens Serum Institut, a government agency that maps the spread of the coronavirus. in Denmark.