Pfizer is set to temporarily limit shipments of its coronavirus vaccine to Europe in order to ramp up future production, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) announced on Friday morning.
Norway, the first European country that Pfizer warned about the reduction, will receive 18% fewer doses next week than they had been receiving previously.
All European countries, including the EU, are expecting reduced shipments of the Pfizer vaccine in the near future.
Greek PM Mitsotakis told the Greek Parliament of the expected decrease in doses on Friday, after receiving a message from the EU that morning.
Pfizer: Reduction now, but “significant increase in doses” in the spring
The US pharmaceutical company told Geir Bukholm, director of infection control at NIPH, that the temporary limit in doses is the consequence of the company’s effort to increase production in the coming months.
By limiting shipments now, Pfizer hopes to increase its capacity from 1.3 billion doses to 2 billion doses this year, in order to meet international demands for the much-needed inoculation.
The company made wide-scale accommodations in the vaccine production process late last year in order to meet the international need for the shot.
Pfizer must now alter the accommodations they made to production in order to consistently and effectively distribute enough doses of the shot this year.
“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,” Pfizer wrote in a statement regarding the reduction in doses.
Norway, like some other European countries, has been keeping a reserve of doses of the Pfizer vaccine in case of fluctuations in shipments.
Bukholm stated that Norway has a vaccine stockpile to last them for at least “a few weeks,” as it is unclear how many doses of Pfizer’s shot the country, and Europe generally, will receive in the near future.