Pfizer and AstraZeneca have rejected claims from NHS England that there will be a “significant reduction” in vaccine supplies next month, with both companies stating that they are on course to meet their delivery targets.
A letter sent by NHS England to vaccination centres on Wednesday warned that the country is expecting to face “a significant reduction in weekly supply available from manufacturers beginning in the week commencing 29 March” due to shortfalls from manufacturers.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock seemed to confirm the concerns, at least on a temporary basis, during a press conference on Wednesday, accepting there will be “ups and downs” with supply levels and the process was always expected to be “lumpy.”
While NHS England’s letter did not specifically name Pfizer and AstraZeneca as the source of the vaccine shortage, the two companies strongly refuted any suggestion that there will be a disruption in their supplies.
“Our UK domestic supply chain is not experiencing any disruption and there is no impact on our delivery schedule,” AstraZeneca said.
Pfizer’s statement declared that the company “can confirm that Q1 deliveries remain on track and continue to progress in line with the monthly schedule, agreed in advance with the Vaccines Taskforce.”
The Department of Health, seemingly siding with the drug companies over NHS England, responded to the statements from Pfizer and AstraZeneca by saying the UK remains “on track to offer a first vaccine to over 50s by 15 April and all adults by 31 July”.
The concerns around potential delays to vaccine supplies came after the European Commission’s president warned that it could block exports “to countries who have higher vaccination rates than us,” in a statement seen as a shot at the UK.
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