ROME – Italy has threatened to take legal action against pharma giant Pfizer over delays in deliveries of the coronavirus vaccine.
“Protecting the health of Italian citizens is not negotiable,” Domenico Arcuri, the special commissioner for the pandemic, said in a statement late Tuesday.
A meeting with ministers and regional leaders considered how to protect Italians “in all civil and criminal venues where possible”, he said.
“It was unanimously decided that these actions will be taken starting in the next few days.”
Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine, which was developed at record-breaking speed, was approved for use in the European Union in late December and has been quickly rolled out.
But Pfizer said last Friday it would delay shipments of vaccinations over the next three to four weeks due to works at its key processing plan in Belgium.
The following day, in a joint statement with German vaccine partner BioNTech, the US drugmaker said it had a plan to limit delays of deliveries to one week.
The delays have sparked concern across Europe, which has suffered badly from the pandemic — with Italy among the worst.
Arcuri said that 29 percent of promised doses were not delivered this week.
“The vaccination campaign cannot be slowed down, even less so for the administration of the second doses for the many Italians who have already been given the first.”
Italy has so far recorded more than 83,000 deaths from coronavirus and vaccinated more than 1.2 million people.