The World Health Organization’s Europe director Hans Kluge said on Thursday that vaccine manufacturers were working non-stop to plug shortfalls in supplies to countries struggling to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and urged them not to jostle for deliveries.
Asked about delays in expediting Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to patients across the 27-nation European Union, Kluge said governments and manufacturers should work together to addressing "teething problems" in the rollout.
"The reality is there is a shortage of vaccines… (But) we don’t doubt that manufacturers and producers are working 24/7 to bridge the gap and we’re confident the delays we are seeing now are going to be made up by extra production in the future."
As he spoke, Europe’s fight to secure COVID-19 vaccine supplies sharpened when Britain demanded that it receive all the shots it paid for after the EU asked AstraZeneca to divert supplies from the UK.
The EU, whose members are far behind Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States in dispensing vaccines, is scrambling to get supplies just as the West’s biggest drugmakers slow deliveries to the bloc due to production problems.
"We need to be patient, it will take time to vaccinate," Kluge said, adding that a total of 35 countries in Europe had launched vaccinations with 25 million doses administered so far."
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