Poland halts supply of Covid-vaccines for "zero group"

Dworczyk said that neither the European Commission nor Poland had received an updated delivery schedule from Pfizer yet, therefore the Polish government "has undertaken actions to secure the ongoing vaccination process." Leszek Szymański/PAP

Poland is suspending the transport to nodal hospitals of 330,000 vaccines for medical staff, designated as the "zero group," until Pfizer provides a new delivery schedule, the government’s commissioner for the country's vaccination strategy said on Saturday.

Michał Dworczyk broke the news after US pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced temporary cuts to vaccine supplies to Europe in order to boost its annual production capacity to 2 billion doses from the earlier-planned 1.3 billion.

However, to achieve the goal, Pfizer will have to upgrade its production lines which will involve a temporary slump in production volumes.

Dworczyk said that neither the European Commission nor Poland had received an updated delivery schedule from Pfizer yet, therefore the Polish government "has undertaken actions to secure the ongoing vaccination process."

The commissioner also said that all the people who had received the first of the two planned jabs would get a second one, as 50,000 doses would be dispatched to relevant vaccination points.

No changes are planned to the population groups that qualify first for the shots, Dworczyk said, and "seniors over 70 years of age will start vaccinations according to plan, from January 25."

The changes will affect vaccinations that will take place next week, Dworczyk said. "330,000 vaccines for the first inoculations in the 'zero group' were scheduled to be transported to nodal hospitals. We've decided to suspend this transport until Pfizer sends us a detailed schedule of supplies to Poland. Only then will we be able to plan those vaccinations," the commissioner said, adding that under a positive scenario there may be a week's delay.

The "zero group" comprises mainly medics and non-medical healthcare personnel, who are being vaccinated in nodal hospitals.

No changes are expected to the planned vaccination in old people's homes, as the planned 120,000 doses will be sent there to start the inoculation process on Monday, Dworczyk also said.