EU countries have vaccinated around 5% of their populations © Getty Images
EU countries have vaccinated around 5% of their populations © Getty Images

EU vaccine woes grow with Pfizer supply '30% lower than expected'

17 February 2021

Pfizer has yet to deliver around 10m vaccine doses to the EU that were due in December, it has been claimed. 

EU officials involved in talks with the pharmaceutical firm said Pfizer had delivered 23m doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to the EU, almost one-third (30%) short of the number expected to be delivered by mid February, according to Reuters.

According to the officials, there was a “temporary hiccup in supplies” in January, which has largely been resolved but some doses that were due to arrive in December were still missing.

The reports come as the bloc faces issues securing supply, culminating in a dispute between the European Commission (EC) and pharmaceutical firm AZ.

EU countries on average have vaccinated 5% of their populations, in comparison to 75% in Israel, 50% in the UAE and just above 20% in Britain, according to Our World in Data. 

Pfizer and the EC have been contacted for comment.

Meanwhile, the EC has proposed purchasing up to 300m additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine on behalf of member states, to be delivered starting from the second quarter of 2021. 

“This vaccine portfolio would enable the EU not only to cover the needs of its whole population, but also to supply vaccines to neighbouring countries,” it said.

The bloc has approved an additional contract with pharmaceutical company Moderna for the purchase of 300m doses. 

Stella Kyriakides, commissioner for health and food safety, said: “With this new contract with Moderna, we are adding another 300 million doses of an authorised safe and effective vaccine. 

“It marks another step towards our objective of providing swift access to safe and effective vaccinations to citizens in Europe and beyond over the course of this year. The contract is important not only for the short-term needs of the EU, but also for our future work to limit the rapid spread of new variants.”

Meanwhile, Hungary’s chief medical officer has confirmed the country will start vaccinating citizens with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, bypassing the EC's programme.

Cecilia Muller said there were currently 2,800 doses of the Russian vaccine available to patients who do not suffer from any chronic underlying illnesses.

Hungary was the first EU country to give preliminary approval to the vaccine in January.

Separately, the EU has reportedly told Hungary it should reform its public procurement laws to curb “systemic irregularities” before cash from the EU pandemic recovery fund will become available.

An internal memo, seen by Reuters, laid out specific legal reforms required. The document said: “Competition in public procurement is insufficient in practice”, adding the irregularities “led to the highest financial correction in the history of (EU) structural funds in 2019”.

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