he UK is to face short-term delays in delivery of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine as the pharmaceutical company upgrades its production capacity.
Pfizer is increasing its production at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, in efforts to produce more doses than originally planned for 2021 – temporarily reducing deliveries to all European countries.
Shipments of the vaccine, produced in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech, to the UK are set to be affected this month.
But the overall number of doses due to be delivered between January and March will remain the same, US firm said.
In response, a spokeswoman for the Government said that it is “still in the process of understanding the implications of Pfizer’s announcement”
But it is still working to its plan of vaccinating all four priority groups by February 15. The UK has secured 40 million doses of the vaccine.
The vaccine from Pfizer is not the only vaccine available in the UK, with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca jab also being rolled out.
A Pfizer spokeswoman said: “We understand a change to deliveries has the potential to create uncertainty.
“However, we can confirm the overall projected volumes of delivery to the UK remain the same for quarter one (January to March).
“We continue to liaise with the UK Government and the Vaccines Taskforce to work through short-term impact of these changes to our January deliveries and support the goals of the UK Covid-19 vaccination programme.”
The UK has secured 40 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.
A Government spokeswoman said: “We are in the process of understanding the implications of Pfizer’s announcement today to our plans.
“However we continue to plan to hit our target of vaccinating all four priority groups by February 15.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that the UK had vaccinated 3.2 million people with almost 45 per cent of over 80s and 40 per cent of care home residents receiving jabs so far.
Other European countries are expected to be hit by the Pfizer delay.
Germany, which has ordered more of the vaccine than any other European country, said it regretted the “unexpected and … very short notice announcement.”
Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia urged the EU to apply pressure on Pfizer-BioNTech.