A picture taken on January 15, 2021 shows a pharmacist holding a vial of undiluted Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19 with gloved hands, which is stored at -70 ° in a super freezer at Le Mans hospital in northwestern France became country runs a vaccination campaign to fight 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 shipped to Europe.
The Norwegian Public Health Institute received a message from Pfizer "shortly before 10 a.m." on Friday, according to a statement by the agency published shortly thereafter. The NIPH statement said supplies of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine would be reduced from next week "and for an upcoming period".
"In week 3, Pfizer predicted 43,875 doses of vaccine. Now we appear to be receiving 36,075 doses," the statement said.
NIPH said the temporary reduction in shipments was "related to an upgrade in production capacity". "The temporary reduction will affect all European countries," he added.
Pfizer later confirmed the interruption in supplies in a statement. "As part of normal productivity improvements to increase capacity, we need to make changes to the process and facility that require additional regulatory approvals," he said.
Pfizer added that while this would "temporarily affect shipments from late January to early February, it will significantly increase the doses available to patients in late February and March".
Meanwhile, Pfizer said there could be fluctuations in orders and shipping schedules at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, "in the near future".
Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday that he was confident of "dramatically increasing" production of the vaccine this year, with the goal of producing up to 2 billion doses.
Bourla also said that Pfizer currently has more doses of its vaccine available than are being used.
The European Union announced last week that it was doubling its inventory of Pfizer BioNTech vaccines.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said the deal would allow the EU to buy an additional 300 million cans on top of its existing inventory. The EU executive has already been criticized for not buying more of the vaccine.
Rollouts have been slow in many EU countries including France, Germany and the Netherlands, and this latest news is likely to weigh on vaccination programs in those countries. Canada has also confirmed that its deliveries will be delayed, but said it was hoped that this would not affect its vaccination program.