US pharma group Pfizer warned Friday that Covid-19 vaccine deliveries to Norway and Europe would be reduced “as of next week” as the company ramps up its production capacity, Norwegian health authorities said.
“The temporary reduction will affect all European countries,” Norway's public health agency NIPH said in a statement. It is not immediately clear how long it will take for Pfizer to attain maximum production capacity, which will rise from 1.3 to 2 billion doses annually.
Production capacity will be “at and over today’s level” by the end of February, the company told Norwegian public service broadcaster NRK.
“What we know is that there will be reduced deliveries, they will not cease but will be reduced, (the reduction) evenly spread over Europe, for more than a week. This will last for a few weeks from now,” Pfizer Norway’s press contact Joachim Henriksen told NRK.
NIPH provided no detailed numbers on deliveries to Europe as a whole, but said Norway would next week receive 36,075 doses, down from the 43,875 previously expected, or a 17.8 percent drop.
In order to compensate for the reduction, Norway will use some of the vaccine doses it had put aside as a precaution when it received its first allotments.
While the Scandinavian country is not a member of the EU, it has signed up to procurement of Covid vaccines negotiated by Brussels.
The shortfall over the next month will be compensated for in later deliveries, according to Henriksen.
“As early as March, we will be on the way to making up for the shortfall – we will deliver more than estimated today,” he told NRK.
“And from the second quarter this will be good news for Norway. By then, the pace will have increased. We are not purchasing more vaccines, but will get what we have ordered faster. The effect of this will particularly be felt from April onwards,” he continued.
But “for the next few weeks from now there will be fewer doses than expected,” the spokesman also acknowledged.
The reduction has been put down to work to implement an overall upgrade on Pfizer’s production capacity.
The Pfizer vaccine has been used by Norway since it commenced its vaccination programme on December 27th.
Vaccines from Moderna, the second producer to be approved for supply by the European Medicines Agency, began arriving in the country this week.
Norway expects to receive 67,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in January and February.