GLOBAL DEMANDS FOR PFIZER VACCINE THREATEN SUPPLIES
By Michael Jarvis, UK Correspondent
A link is being drawn between Friday’s announcement by Cayman Islands Government (CIG) of a major urgent adjustment to its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, and a production change by the manufacturers of the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine which is being administered here.
Pfizer which manufactures the drug in Belgium announced on Friday that it was cutting back on shipments from its plant in Belgium while it concentrates on upgrading its operations to meet demand.
The announcement caught the British and European governments by surprise with countries now rushing to ensure that their vaccination programmes are not thrown off-schedule.
There has been some consternation by many countries over the short notice. A UK government representative was quoted as saying that they were “still in the process of understanding the implications of Pfizer’s announcement”.
However, Pfizer has said that “the overall projected volumes of delivery to the UK remain the same for quarter one (January to March).
The company said they were liaising with the UK Government “to work through short-term impact of these changes to our January deliveries and support the goals of the UK Covid-19 vaccination programme.”
A Cayman Islands government press release on Friday afternoon quoted HE Governor Martyn Roper confirming that “the UK will be sending a further 9,750 doses on the British Airways flight arriving on 28th January, and is making arrangements for a third delivery in February.”
Chief Medical Officer(CMO) Dr John Lee said: “The vaccines arriving later this month will be used for the second dose for persons who have received their first dose.
The CMO also said that they are “monitoring continuously the quantities available and will open up the various stages according to our supply.”
Medical Officer of Health, Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said the uptake of the vaccine has been very positive with many persons eager to get protected from the virus.”
All 9,750 doses of the first batch of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will now be administered in the first phase of the national voluntary vaccination campaign instead of being spread across two doses as previously planned.
This means that instead of 4,875 persons being vaccinated in the first round with two doses each three weeks apart, the new target is for 9,750 people to receive their first injection.
The second of the two doses will be administered to those persons when the next consignment of the vaccine arrives later this month.
It is understood that the objective is to reduce the likelihood of having a gap in the vaccination supply and inoculation campaign.