The Pfizer vaccine deliveries across Europe will potentially be halved until the middle of February, as its factory in Puurs, Belgium, is being upgraded to meet their target production rate of 2 billion doses per annum.
Many EU countries have responded with dismay, with the German Health Ministry saying it was an “unexpected and … very short notice” announcement, despite promising “binding delivery dates” according to an article in the Financial Times. A further six states in the Nordic and Baltic region have labelled the delay “unacceptable”. This was confirmed after Norway and Lithuania both reported a decline in the steady supply from the US pharmaceutical company.
The company also went on to say that the upgrades would also have a “short-term impact” on the delivery of vaccines to the UK, according to an article from the BBC. The UK Government, however, has indicated that it still intends to meet its target of vaccinating 15 million people by the middle of February. The Government’s confidence is attributed to the current vaccination drive in the UK not only being solely dependant on Pfizer, but also including the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, currently being rolled out alongside it.
Several nations penned a letter warning that this delay “decreases the credibility of the vaccination process”. It comes immediately after Norway opened an investigation into the deaths of 23 elderly patients after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, as reported in the British Medical Journal.
Meanwhile, Turkey is believed to have vaccinated half a million people in two days since its vaccine rollout began, more on the first day than France did in an entire week. India, on the other hand, began the world’s largest vaccination drive in an attempt to vaccinate 1.3 billion people on Saturday and President-Elect Joe Biden on Friday unveiled an ambitious plan to ramp up vaccinations against Covid-19 when he takes office next Wednesday.