Pfizer Denies Vaccine Shipments Not Delayed, 'Millions' of Doses in Warehouse Awaiting US Directives

Pfizer denied claims there are delays in producing the coronavirus vaccine it developed with BioNTech. The pharmaceutical giant said Thursday there are "millions" of doses in their warehouses, but they are still waiting on shipment instructions from the U.S. government. The pushback came after some governors said they received fewer doses than expected.

In a statement Thursday, Pfizer said the company is "not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed." All 2,9 million doses the government requested were shipped to locations specified by the government. "We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses," the company said.

Operation Warp Speed's chief scientific adviser, Moncef Slaoui, told Bloomberg the government is close to a deal to order 100 million more doses from Pfizer. The company should be able to get the additional supply delivered in the second quarter of 2021, Slaoui said. Operation Warp Speed agreed to a $1.96 billion contract for 100 million doses of the two-dose vaccine in July, with an option for buying 500 million more doses. However, after reports surfaced that the government declined the option, Pfizer and the U.S. have been at odds. Pfizer said the delay meant it would have to fulfill orders from other countries before it could sent more vaccines to the U.S.

The vaccine began rolling out across the country this week, but nothing about the rollout has been easy. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has claimed "production" issues were behind a delay in future shipments. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC Pfizer was keeping the federal government at "arm's length" during the vaccine-producing process and wants "more visibility." He also claimed Pfizer said it would make 100 million doses before the end of 2020, but they "had to cut that in half to 50 million."

In its statement on Thursday, Pfizer denied this and said they have "continuously shared" details about manufacturing and distribution in weekly meetings with HHS and Operation Warp Speed. "They have visited our facilities, walked the production lines and been updated on our production planning as information has become available," the company said. Later, Pfizer added they are "confident in our ability to deliver up to 50 million doses globally this year and up to 1.3 billion next year, and we look forward to continuing to work with the US Government to deliver our vaccine to the American people."

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The U.S.'s 100 million doses order called for 20 million a month starting in November, but the first doses did not come until this month. An administration official told Bloomberg Pfizer is spreading out that 20 million across the first quarter of 2021. So far, about 10.4 million doses were allocated to the U.S., according to the official. Of the first 6.4 million, 500,000 were held back for reserve. About 2.9 million were shipped out this week and another 2.9 will be sent out in three weeks so patients can receive the second dose.