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Pfizer slows supplies, Chinese experts: Stop using their vaccine

Christian Fernsby |
European governments said the credibility of their vaccination programmes was at risk on Friday after Pfizer announced a temporary slowdown of deliveries of its COVID-19 vaccines.

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Topics: PFIZER    CHINESE   

Shots developed by Pfizer with its German partner BioNTech began being delivered in the EU at the end of December, but around nine of the 27 EU governments complained of “insufficient” doses at a meeting this week, a participant said.

Pfizer initially said deliveries were proceeding on schedule, but then on Friday announced there would be a temporary impact on shipments in late January to early February caused by changes to manufacturing processes to boost output.

BioNTech said on Friday a facility in Puurs, Belgium, will temporarily see a drop in the number of doses delivered in the coming week, as changes to some production processes were needed to scale-up capacity in Europe.

The companies will inform the European Commission, EU member states and other countries impacted by the changes about the updated delivery schedules, BioNTech said.

Chinese health experts called on Norway and other countries to suspend the use of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines produced by companies such as Pfizer, especially among elderly people, due to the vaccines' safety uncertainties following the deaths of 23 elderly Norwegian people who received the vaccine.

The new mRNA vaccine was developed in haste and had never been used on a large scale for the prevention of infectious disease, and its safety had not been confirmed for large-scale use in humans, a Chinese immunologist said.

The death incidents in Norway also proved that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines' efficacy was not as good as expected, experts said.

As of Thursday, Norway has reported 23 deaths in connection with vaccination.

"So far, 13 of these have been assessed. Common side effects may have contributed to a severe course in frail elderly people," the Norwegian Medicines Agency said on its website.

All the deaths have occurred in frail, elderly patients in nursing homes. All are over 80 years old and some of them over 90, Norwegian media NRK reported.


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