OSLO (Reuters) – Norway anticipates reduced supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine until the second week of February, but has an emergency stockpile and will continue administering doses as planned, the government’s public health body said.
Pfizer said last week it would until early February reduce deliveries to Europe of the shots developed with its partner BioNTech while it upgraded production capacity.
Camilla Stoltenberg, head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said the company had given varying guidance, but normal supplies were expected to resume by mid-February.
“Pfizer has informed us of adjustments to the weekly deliveries over the coming weeks, and up to the second week of February. These adjustments of weekly shipping vary in size, and lie between 1% and 15% per week,” she told Reuters.
Pfizer said there would be a temporary impact on some shipments to Norway but was confident in its ability to deliver the “fully committed quantity of vaccine doses” in the first quarter and “significantly more” in the second quarter.
The country of 5.4 million has given first vaccine doses to nearly 55,000 people, mainly residents of care homes, and primarily the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The non-European Union country is part of the bloc’s vaccination purchase programme via Sweden, which is buying more than it needs and passing on doses.
“When we get delays at short notice it is demanding on our logistics. All the time we need to have extra capacity,” Stoltenberg said.
However, deliveries to municipalities would run as scheduled for the next few weeks, including second doses, she stressed.
From the start of the programme, Oslo decided to establish an emergency stockpile of 60,000 doses – a move it received criticism at home for.
“So we can compensate for a few weeks for the delays in deliveries. But this can only last for so long,” said Stoltenberg.
“This is also an issue for the countries who have decided to use all the vaccines doses immediately and expect Pfizer/BioNTech deliveries to be reliable.”
(Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Kirsten Donovan)