Pfizer already agreed to delay supply of COVID-19 shots to EU, now the bloc wants more

Last month, in response to a decrease in demand, Pfizer and its COVID-19 vaccine partner BioNTech agreed to delay supplies of their shot to the European Union. Jabs due to be shipped from June to August would instead be sent in September and the fourth quarter.

Now, four weeks later, the bloc is putting heat on Pfizer to further restrict supplies, Reuters reports.

This move comes two weeks after the EU reached an agreement with Moderna to postpone its scheduled delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

Responding to a request for comment, a Pfizer spokesperson referenced a previous statement it issued following last month's agreement with the EU.

"This amendment rephases planned deliveries to help support the European Commission and member states' ongoing immunization programs, and is aligned to the companies’ commitment to working collaboratively to identify pragmatic solutions to address the evolving pandemic needs," Pfizer wrote.

 With the coronavirus pandemic abating and demand for shots falling, the world’s primary COVID-19 vaccine producers are feeling the pinch.

From South Africa—where Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine manufacturing partner Aspen had not received a single order through two months of production—to the United States, where expired doses are being discarded—vaccine makers are finding a much different landscape than a year ago when their ability to supply could barely keep pace with demand.

Europe is now looking at the same scenario as the U.S., warning that jabs will go to waste if Pfizer holds the bloc to its current contract, Reuters reports. EU health ministers are discussing the problem this week in Luxembourg, France’s Brigitte Bourgignon told reporters.

In Poland, for example, where 60% of its 38 million people are fully vaccinated, the country has a stockpile of 30 million doses. That stock will grow to 100 million doses if the country is to fulfill its existing contracts, an official from the country told Reuters.

Earlier this month, in a letter sent to the European Commission, Poland joined several Eastern European countries urging the bloc to reduce vaccine supplies, Reuters reported.

Just one problem: The bloc signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech to buy 1.8 billion doses in 2022 and 2023.

Pfizer has stuck to its forecast of $32 billion in sales of the vaccine in 2022, while BioNTech continues to expect to generate between 13 billion euros ($13.7 billion) and 17 billion euros ($17.9 billion).

In Moderna’s recent agreement with Europe, the company said it would push delivery of shots due for the second quarter to later in the year or in 2023. Moderna has not adjusted its projection of $21 billion in revenue from the shot this year.