Pfizer confirmed on Friday that vaccine deliveries will decrease in late January-early February, time to make changes in the production process and thus increase the pace in the coming weeks.
“Pfizer is working hard to deliver more doses than originally planned this year with a new stated goal of 2 billion doses by 2021,” the group said in a statement.
Additional approvals are required
The changes to be made to the production structure “require further regulatory approvals”, and there may therefore be “fluctuations in the orders for deliveries and deliveries at the Puurs plant (in Belgium, editor’s note) in the near future to enable us to quickly increase production volumes, he added.
This setback at the Puurs facility will not affect the United States, where vaccines developed by Pfizer in collaboration with BioNTech are being produced at the Kalamazoo site in Michigan (north), a spokesman later clarified. of the group.
Ursula von der Leyen reassured
Despite a decline in vaccine production, Pfizer has assured that the doses expected by the EU in the first quarter will be delivered as planned, said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday.
Following the announcement of upcoming production delays, “I immediately called the CEO of Pfizer (…) He assured me that all doses guaranteed for the 1st quarter (to EU countries) will be delivered in the first quarter,” said the head of the European leader at a press conference in Lisbon.
The head of Pfizer “is personally involved in reducing this period of delay and making sure that these delays are rectified as soon as possible. It was important to send him the message that we need these promised doses immediately. In the first quarter,” said Ursula von der Leyen.
In total, pre-orders from Brussels to Pfizer-BioNTech amount to 500 million doses, with an option for an additional 100 million. As the two doses of the vaccine will be administered within a few weeks in a row, “it is a medical necessity to adhere to the schedule we have agreed on and secure the deliveries” as planned, Ursula von der Leyen emphasized.
“This is not the first time a company has announced delivery delays in a short period of time (…) others have had to postpone the submission of the vaccine to the European Medicines Agency,” he said. she observed. “So we’ve run into these problems before, we’ll see them again in the future, but let’s not forget that it’s generally a great success.”
Six EU countries express “serious concern”
Health ministers from six EU countries on Friday expressed in a joint letter to the European Commission their “serious concern” over the delays in the delivery of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
The ministers of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Sweden condemned in this letter an “unacceptable” situation that undermines the “credibility of the vaccination process”.
Officials in the six countries have been told by BioNTech / Pfizer that deliveries will be “significantly reduced in the coming weeks,” she continued. “Some were given a deadline of February 8, 2021, others had no information about the duration of the expected fall in deliveries.”
Lithuania had earlier announced on Friday that vaccine delivery would be reduced to 54,505 doses from 108,810 originally expected over the next four weeks, a reduction of almost 50%.
And in France?
France will have to “adjust the pace of vaccinations” due to the “sharp fall” expected in deliveries of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine in the coming weeks, a source in the management said.
However, the delays do not call into question “the overall distribution of the vaccine campaign” in France, the same source assures us. France, which has already received 1.5 million doses of Pfizer vaccine, expected 520,000 more next week.
The revision of this program will intervene “as soon as France will know the exact level of future deliveries”, specified the same source, while confirming that France had “expected possible delays” in the management of deliveries.
The stock should thus make it possible to continue vaccinating, but at a more measured pace than expected, while the country, like other European neighbors, is the target of criticism of the inertia of the campaign.