Italy will sue Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca over delays in the delivery of vaccines against covid-19 and to guarantee supplies – not to obtain compensation, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Sunday.
“We are working so that our vaccine plan is not changed,” Di Maio told state television RAI. On Saturday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the delays in supplying vaccines are “unacceptable” and represent a serious breach of contractual obligations, adding that Italy would use all available legal tools.
Italy will have to redo its entire vaccination program if supply problems persist, said a senior health official in the country.
Asked why pharmaceutical companies announced the reduction of available lots, Di Maio said he believed they had more eyes than a belly. “We are activating all channels so that the European Commission does everything possible for these gentlemen to respect the contracts”, he said.
Pfizer said last week that it was going to temporarily reduce supplies to Europe to make manufacturing changes to increase production. On Friday, a senior official told Reuters that AstraZeneca also informed the European Union that it would reduce its vaccine deliveries by 60% due to production problems.
The cut in supply announced by the two companies will delay vaccination of those over 80 in Italy by about four weeks and that of the rest of the population by about 6-8 weeks, Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said in this Sunday. “This type of delay affects the whole of Europe and a good part of the world, but I am confident that the delay can be made up for later,” he said.