US pharma company Pfizer has informed President Donald Trump’s administration that it will not be able to provide a significant number of additional doses of its coronavirus vaccine until late June or July 2021.
Sources familiar to the situation, according to The Washinton Post on Tuesday, say that Pfizer is unable to provide the additional vaccine doses because other countries have already bought most of its supply.
In July, Germany’s BioNTech, which worked on the COVID-19 vaccine with Pfizer, said that the companies reached an agreement with the U.S. authorities on supplying up to 600 million doses of their vaccine.
According to the company, after receiving the first 100 million doses, Washington will pay BioNTech and Pfizer $1.95 billion.
The U.S. will be able to acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.
According to the newspaper, Pfizer’s announcement means that the U.S. government may not be able to ramp up the supply of the company’s vaccine as quickly as it expected.
This, in turn, raises doubts about whether the U.S. authorities will be able to adhere to the schedule and vaccinate the majority of the country’s population by the end of spring or early summer.
The Trump administration denies that the country may face problems with vaccine availability in the second quarter of 2021, citing other drugs in development.
However, several officials familiar with the contracts said that vaccine supplies from other companies might not be enough to fill the gap.
Earlier in December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer expected to ship just about half of the COVID-19 vaccines it originally planned for this year because of supply-chain problems.
However, it still expects to roll out more than a billion doses in 2021.
In particular, the companies hoped to roll out 100 million doses worldwide by the end of this year, but now, the plan has been reduced to 50 million.
The two-shot vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech, which has 95 per cent efficacy, is expected to receive emergency-use authorisation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the near future.
Last week, the UK became the first Western country to grant emergency-use authorization for the vaccine.