The European Union, Canada and some other countries will receive fewer doses next week of the covid-19 vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE due to an upgrade at Pfizer’s European factory, the companies said Friday, adding to concerns about the slow pace of the global vaccine rollout.
The delay won’t affect the U.S., which is supplied by a Pfizer factory in Michigan, the company said, while all other nations are served by the pharma giant’s factory in Puurs, Belgium, which is being upgraded.
Governments in Europe, which are struggling with stubbornly high covid-19 case numbers and a glacial vaccine rollout, reacted with dismay. In an open letter to the companies, the health ministers of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia said the incident was unacceptable and risked undermining the credibility of the vaccine rollout, which is already facing public distrust.
The German government said in a statement that it deplored what it called the short notice and unexpected news, noting that Pfizer was failing to meet a contractual obligation.
“The company has made a binding commitment to a delivery schedule until mid-February,” the statement said.