SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Vaccine maker AstraZeneca will supply fewer doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the Netherlands and the rest of the EU than agreed over the next two weeks, causing a further delay in the mass vaccination programme.
In total, 217,000 doses will arrive in the Netherlands later than expected, and this means that from next Monday no extra vaccines can be delivered to regional health board mass vaccination centres, family doctors and homes for the mentally disabled, public health institute RIVM said.
Vaccinations planned up to March 14 will go ahead but no new appointments are being made, apart from for people due a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the RIVM said.
The pharmaceuticals company has not given a reason for the delay, health ministry said on Monday. Deliveries are set to resume on March 7. It is the second time that AstraZeneca has failed to meet delivery agreements with the EU.
Last year, it was forced to backpedal on promises to deliver 80 million doses to the EU in the first quarter. Health minister Hugo de Jonge said he was ‘very disappointed’ that the delivery has been delayed.
The speed at which the Netherlands can vaccination its population is totally dependent on the timing of the deliveries, he said. So far, one million doses of vaccine have been given in the Netherlands, which started its vaccination programme later than any other EU country.