The sleight of hand is crude, but obviously, for Big Pharma, anything goes in the pandemic. In the grip of difficulties on its production line, unilaterally announced last week, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, allied with the German start-up BioNTech, obtained, on Thursday, from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), an agreement for now consider that his vials contain not five doses of his vaccine, but six. This will enable it to post a reduction in its deliveries to European countries which is less significant than it actually is, while automatically increasing the unit price of its vials, since the multinational is invoicing the States for doses … a press release, Pfizer promises to “expand its production operations” and “deliver more doses than expected from the second quarter of 2021”, while Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the Commission, calls for immediate delivery of doses planned.
The problem is that vaccination campaigns have started, states are pledging to scale them up, and shortages are undermining programs, especially for on-time second-dose injections. This is the case in the United States, but also in all European countries. In France, for lack of doses, the Grand-Est regional health authority has decided to suspend the vaccination campaign for two days, early next week, in the Bas-Rhin. In Belgium, Flanders will also be on a dry basis for at least the next seven days. Same punishment in Spain, where the campaign is interrupted, especially in Madrid. In Italy, several regions (Veneto, Campania, Marche, Alto Adige, Piedmont and Aosta Valley) have consumed more than 90% of their doses, without much hope of replenishment to meet the needs.
On the other side of the Alps, where we now fear to receive only 5 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines in the first quarter, instead of the 10 million promised, anger is mounting. In the crosshairs, the authorities who, allowing the vaccination of all health personnel, including those who are not on the front line, have not targeted as a priority the over 80s and the most vulnerable. Boss of the Italian crisis cell for the pandemic, Domenico Arcuri promises legal action to obtain the planned doses, but this could again be a diversion.