Italy plans to take legal action against US drug maker Pfizer to delay the supply of coronavirus vaccines, Domenico Arcuri, Italy’s special commissioner for the pandemic, said in a statement Tuesday night.
On Friday, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said they would deliver fewer doses than expected for EU countries this week as they change the production process to increase future deliveries. They said deliveries would return to the original schedule next week.
Italian officials discussed the situation with company employees on Tuesday.
Mr Arcuri said Pfizer would not make up for next week’s supply shortfall, which would instead be smaller than expected. Italian authorities are worried that a shortage of doses could dangerously delay the country’s vaccination program, which has so far reached more than 1.2 million people, starting with health workers and residents of old people’s homes.
Some district governors have announced that they will stop new vaccinations due to shortages and will focus on distributing the second dose of the vaccine to people who have already received the first. But they warned that if the delays continued, even the distribution of booster doses would be put at risk.
“The health of Italian citizens is not a moot point,” Mr Arcuri said in a statement. “The vaccination campaign cannot be delayed, especially for giving the second doses to many Italians who have already received the first.”
Pfizer did not respond immediately to a request for comment.