A picture taken on January 15, 2021, shows a pharmacist holding with gloved hands a phial of the undiluted Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19, stored at -70 ° in a super freezer of the hospital of Le Mans, northwestern France as the country carry on a vaccination campaign to fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Jean-Francois Monier | AFP | Getty Images
LONDON — Pfizer will temporarily reduce the number of doses of its coronavirus vaccine being delivered to Europe.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health received a message from Pfizer “little before 10 o’clock” Friday, according to a translation of a statement released by the authority shortly afterwards. NIPH’s statement said that deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be reduced from next week “and for a period ahead.”
“We were predicted 43,875 vaccine doses from Pfizer in week 3. Now it seems that we get 36,075 doses,” the statement said.
NIPH said the temporary reduction in deliveries was “in connection with an upgrade of production capacity.” “The temporary reduction will affect all European countries,” it added.
Pfizer later confirmed the disruption to deliveries in a statement. “As part of the normal productivity improvements to increase capacity, we must make modifications to the process and facility that will require additional regulatory approvals,” it explained.
Pfizer added that while this would “temporarily impact shipments in late January to early February, it will provide a significant increase in doses available for patients in late February and March.”
In the meantime, Pfizer said that there may be “fluctuations in orders and shipping schedules” at its Puurs facility in Belgium “in the immediate future.”
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday that he felt confident that it could “increase dramatically” production of the vaccine this year with a goal of manufacturing up to 2 billion doses.
Bourla also said Pfizer currently had more doses of its vaccine available than were being used.
The European Union said last week that it was doubling its stock of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the agreement would allow the EU to purchase another 300 million doses to its existing stock. The EU’s executive arm has already been criticized for not buying more of the vaccine.
Rollouts have been slow across many EU nations, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, and this latest news will likely weigh on inoculation programs in those counties. Canada has also confirmed that its shipments will be delayed, but said it’s hopeful that it won’t impact its vaccination program.