Fewer numbers of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have arrived than were expected due to manufacturing capacity issues, and so parts of Italy, Germany and Spain have been forced to suspend inoculations. Romania warns that its vaccine stocks could be completely depleted by February and Poland and the Czech Republic are also experiencing complications as a result of the lacking supplies.
While Pfizer has explained that it was delaying shipments of its shot in order to increase capacity as its Belgian processing plant, Italy and Poland have threatened to take legal action. Virus numbers in the European Union (EU) are surging, and countries are desperate to get vaccinations well underway.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen insisted that a quick delivery of the vaccines needed to be ensured, but it seems the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (which was recently approved by Europe) may also be in short supply according to reports from German news outlets, who say that AstraZeneca notified EU officials this week that its first-quarter deliveries will come in lower than originally expected.
Travel restrictions tighten up
This latest news will only further exacerbate lockdown measures in the EU, where news of new Covid variants have sparked tightened travel restrictions.
Belgium, France, Portugal and Finland are among the European Union (EU) countries that have announced new travel regulations. From 27 January, people travelling to and from Belgium may do so only for essential purposes, and all Belgians returning from Britain, South America or South Africa (where the new Covid variants have been identified) will have to quarantine for 10 days and take a PCR test on the first and seventh days; France now demands European travellers to present a negative PCR test 72 hours before departure for all European arrivals; Portugal has suspended all flights to and from the UK; and Finland plans to restrict entry from all Schengen countries, permitting only essential travel.