The Italian government has announced it will take legal action against pharmaceutical company Pfizer over Covid-19 vaccine delays.
The country’s extraordinary coronavirus commissioner, Domenico Arcuri, announced the decision on Tuesday, after a meeting with local governors and the ministers for health and regional affairs.
“It was discussed which actions should be taken to protect Italian citizens and their health in all of the civil and criminal offices where this will be possible. Unanimously it has been decided that these actions will be undertaken starting from the next few days in a unitary framework," Arcuri said in a statement.
The protection of the health of Italy’s citizens is non-negotiable."
“The vaccination campaign cannot be slowed down, let alone for the administration of the second doses to the many Italians who have already been administered the first one,” Arcuri added.
The decision comes after the head of the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) Nicola Magrini voiced “grave concern” over delays of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, during a radio interview on Tuesday.
Pfizer said on Friday that shipments from its vaccine facility in Puurs, Belgium, would be temporarily reduced as it scales up to produce 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021.
The company said that in order to increase capacity, changes were needed to the process and facility, and additional regulatory approvals would be required.
Pfizer's vaccine partner BioNTech later said that the original schedule for deliveries to the European Union would resume the week beginning January 25.
BioNTech said it hoped to “increase delivery beginning the week of February 15," which would result in delivering “the fully committed quantity of vaccine doses in the first quarter and significantly more in the second quarter."
As of Wednesday, 1,236,479 Italians have been vaccinated, according to the latest data from the Health Ministry. 6,943 people in the country have received both doses of the vaccine.