Pfizer to end extra vaccine supplies to Poland

LUCA ZENNARO/PAP/EPA

US pharmaceutical company Pfizer will no longer ship an additional 1 million coronavirus vaccines a week to Poland and will return to the agreed weekly amount of 1.2-1.5 million doses, the head of the government's Strategic Reserves Agency said on Wednesday.

Michal Kuczmierowski said the increased supplies were a result of additional agreements that the Polish government signed with Pfizer early this year that will be completed in June

Consequently, access to the Pfizer vaccines will be restricted for unvaccinated people from July because all further supplies from the US producer will be administered solely as the second dose to those who have already received the first Pfizer jab, Kuczmierowski went on to say.

This could constitute a major setback for the government's efforts to ensure nationwide herd immunity as the AstraZeneca vaccine has met with considerable resistance in society due to incidents of rare blood clots, and both AstraZeneca and Johnson&Johnson have seen criticism from the Catholic Church due to both vaccines' embryo-related origins.

The government is planning to launch a nationwide lottery in July to encourage people to take a Covid-19 vaccine as just above 10 million people in the 38-million nation are fully vaccinated.

"We are worried that there may be too few vaccines for people seeking the jab in July but we want the vaccination process to run smoothly, especially when you take into account yet another potential wave of the pandemic in the autumn," Kuczmierowski said.

Currently, Poland is receiving about 2.2-2.5 million doses from Pfizer a week apart from 100,000 vaccines from Johnson&Johnson and 250,000 from AstraZeneca and Moderna each.

There are no changes expected to the deliveries from the other three vaccine producers.

"We hoped that the deliveries would stay at the increased level through July, but it will not be the case," said the reserves official.

Still, Pfizer is meeting its contractual obligations towards Poland as it has promised to deliver 50 million doses to the country this year, Kuczmierowski said.