#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 6°C Monday 8 March 2021
Advertisement

Ireland may have to adjust vaccine rollout plan after Pfizer temporarily reduces deliveries to Europe

“The temporary reduction will affect all European countries,” Norway’s Public Health Agency said in a statement.

Image: Shutterstock.com

Updated Jan 15th 2021, 1:35 PM

IRELAND MAY HAVE to re-examine its vaccine rollout after it was announced today that US pharma group Pfizer will reduce vaccine deliveries as it ramps up production.  

Pfizer has warned 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 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.”

Chair of Ireland’s High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination Professor Brian MacCraith said today that Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Belgium is currently scaling up from 1.3 billion doses per year to 2 billion doses which has lead to a pause due to “regulatory issues”. 

“We can’t make predictions about the actual scale backwards in terms of deliveries with confidence, as we’ve stated a number of times, on the number of vaccines that will be coming on a weekly basis from Pfizer,” MacCraith told RTÉ’s News At One.

“And as of this moment we don’t know what the implications are in that regard,” he said. 

MacCraith said the task force is currently working through “a number of scenarios” about how the delay may affect Ireland’s rollout. 

“We’ve always said from the very beginning of this that the implementation plan, the strategy had to be agile, we’re dealing with so many factors that are uncertain and again, we’re seeing potentially a production issue for one of the major vaccines.

“But it also highlights the fact that it’s so important to have a range of vaccine possibilities coming on stream. So we’ll wait and see. It’s just very difficult to predict the impact of this but we will adjust accordingly. We’ve planned for this sort of eventuality, we’ll adjust accordingly to change the rollout plan to accommodate this,” he said. 

Professor MacCraith added there were implications for people receiving their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine which he said health authorities are “watching very closely” and said the vaccine programme may have to be adjusted given the Pfizer delay.

“Crucially we’re waiting on specific information from Pfizer themselves and what the percentage reduction is. Early indications are that it might be just three or four weeks.

“But once these sort of things happen one is never sure…but the [vaccine rollout] plan is intended to be adaptable, we’ll model through this now and as soon as we get, solid information from Pfizer, we will adjust accordingly.”

A spokesperson for Pfizer said the company “is working hard to deliver more doses than originally forecasted this year with a newly stated goal of 2B doses in 2021. To do this, Pfizer is scaling up manufacturing operations to increase dose availability and output.

“As part of the normal productivity improvements to increase capacity, we must make modifications to the process and facility that will require additional regulatory approvals. Although this will temporarily impact shipments in late January to early February, it will provide a significant increase in doses available for patients in late February and March.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

“Consequently, there may be fluctuations in orders and shipping schedules at our Puurs facility in the immediate future to quickly enable the increased production volumes.”

The HSE yesterday confirmed that 77,303 Covid-19 vaccine doses – 1.58% of the population – have been administered in Ireland.

The first delivery of the recently approved Moderna vaccine arrived in Ireland this week.

As of yesterday, Ireland has received 152,100 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines and 3,600 Moderna vaccines. 

Over the course of this week, the HSE plans to administer 25,060 vaccinations at 186 long-term care facilities, along with 14,040 vaccinations to frontline healthcare workers. 

The Department of Health and the HSE have been contacted for comment. 

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (57)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel