BUCHAREST: Pfizer has cut the amount of Covid-19 vaccines that it will send to certain EU countries this week by half, government officials said on Thursday, as outrage increases over the abrupt supply cut by the US drugmaker.
This week, Romania will get 50 percent of its expected amount and supplies will only steadily increase, with deliveries not returning to normal until the end of March, said Deputy Minister of Health Andrei Baciu.
The situation was similar in Poland, which received 176,000 doses on Monday, a reduction of approximately 50 percent from what was predicted, authorities said.
Last week, the Czech government braced for supply instability, slowing down its vaccine programme just as the second dose of vaccines got underway.
“We have to expect a decrease in the number of open vaccination appointments over the next three weeks,” reporters were told by Health Minister Jan Blatny on Thursday, with Pfizer deliveries dropping by around 15 percent this week and as much as 30 percent over the next two weeks.
Last week, Pfizer and its German affiliate BioNTech refused to comment on the cuts outside their announcement, which confirmed cuts to deliveries as production in Europe ramps up.
Any nations estimate that they can do it. The government’s public health agency said Norway has an emergency stockpile and will continue to prescribe doses as expected.
According to top leaders, the US drugmaker has told Bulgaria and Poland that it will restore the missed doses.
But Denmark’s Serum Institute said its 50 percent lack of shots this week in the first quarter would lead to a 10 percent shortfall.
With the unexpected cuts now reeling from governments across the country, officials warn the reductions are crippling their attempts to inoculate their people.
Italy threatened legal action on Wednesday against Pfizer.
In Hungary, where the authorities gave the go-ahead to the EU drug regulator to use Britain’s AstraZeneca and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines, a senior official called on Brussels to try to ensure that supplies from Pfizer and other vaccine suppliers would adhere to the timetable.
“We would be pleased if the (European) Commission could take steps to ensure that Pfizer and other manufacturers change deliveries as soon as possible,” said Gergely Gulyas, Chief of Staff of Prime Minister Viktor Orbans.
The dilemma has also extended to countries beyond the trading bloc – Canada is facing delays, as is Switzerland, where this week Pfizer just fired 1,000 shots from the mountain canton of Grisons, far short of the 3,000 it had been anticipating.