Reduction in Pfizer vaccines to Denmark will impact first quarter of 2021

Denmark will receive fewer doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine than expected throughout the first quarter of this year, a bigger reduction than was previously signalled.

Reduction in Pfizer vaccines to Denmark will impact first quarter of 2021
Photo: Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix

The reduction will total between 85,000 and 100,000 doses, the national infectious disease agency SSI confirmed via its website.

That equates to a reduction of around 10 percent in the total delivery for the period compared with the original expected amount.

Around 42,000-50,000 fewer people will therefore receive vaccinations in the first quarter of 2021, since two doses are required.

SSI deputy director Ole Jensen said it was problematic that fewer doses than expected would be received.

“This is very unfortunate because we are at a very important point in the epidemic where it’s crucial to get moving with vaccination, so it’s a problem that we can complete vaccination of 50,000 fewer people with two doses than planned in the first quarter,” Jensen said.

As first reported last week, Pfizer has warned of a reduction in the number of doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to Denmark and other countries in the immediate future, as a result of work to expand capacity the company's factory in Belgium.

For Denmark, that means 30,000-35,000 fewer doses than expected this week, around half of what was expected.

READ ALSO: 'We are disappointed and frustrated:' Denmark's reaction to reduced vaccine deliveries

But last week’s announcement was followed by reassurances that the total deliveries for the first quarter would be as expected, with a later increase in production making up for the immediate shortfall.

Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the EU Commission, was reported to have made that assurance after speaking to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Pfizer statements on the matter are related to the company now considering each vial it produces to contain six doses of the vaccine rather than the previous five, according to Jensen.

But Denmark already draws six doses from each vial and had planned vaccinations on this basis, he said.

Pfizer has also told SSI that there will be differences in the size of the reduction in deliveries between EU countries.

Jensen said that SSI and Danish health authorities, as well as the EU, are working to get Pfizer to deliver the quantities previously promised.

“We are doing all we can. We are in close dialogue with Pfizer whereby we are trying to get the vaccines we have planned for,” he said.

The Danish Health Authority said on Tuesday it had already adapted its vaccine schedule due to the delay.

As such, care homes residents awaiting their second dose of the vaccine will now be prioritised higher.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”