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Health

After Italy, Poland says it could take legal action over Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine delay

Vaccination With Pfizer Biontech Coronavirus Disease (covid 19) Vaccine Of The Medical Staff, In Brussels
A medical staff member receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine REUTERS/Yves Herman

Poland could take legal action against Pfizer next month if the U.S. drugmaker does not deliver all scheduled doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, a government spokesman said on Friday.

Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with its German partner BioNTech, has reduced the volume of the vaccine it will deliver to European Union countries this week.

Pfizer and BioNTech have declined to comment on the cuts beyond a statement last week which announced cuts to deliveries as they ramp up manufacturing in Europe.

Italy has said it is considering legal action, amid mounting frustration over the impact the cut in supplies has on vaccination programmes.

“I think that such a decision (on legal action) could be made next month if these supplies are not completed in accordance with the manufacturer’s declaration,” Piotr Muller told public broadcaster Polskie Radio Program 1.

On Monday, Poland received 176,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, a drop of around 50% from what was expected, authorities said.

On Thursday, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said the missing doses would be delivered from mid-February.

“At the moment, we have a situation where the manufacturer declares… that these differences will be covered,” Muller said. “But if this is not the case then of course legal measures will have to be considered.”

Earlier this week Italy also said that it was considering taking legal action against Pfizer for the vaccine delivery delays.

Pfizer had told Italy last week that it was cutting its deliveries by 29%. On Tuesday, it said it was not in the position to make up the 29% shortfall next week and that it was planning a further “slight reduction” in deliveries, Arcuri said.

“As a result, we discussed what action to take to protect Italian citizens and their health in all civil and criminal venues,” Arcuri said in a statement late on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Pfizer declined to comment on Wednesday over Italy‘s legal threat and criticism regarding delivery delays beyond its statement on Friday about supply cuts.

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