Italy has threatened to bring legal action against pharmaceutical company Pfizerover delays in the distribution of the vaccine against the coronavirus.
“It is not negotiable to protect the health of Italian citizens,” Domenico
Arcuri, the special commissioner for the pandemic, said late Tuesday in a statement.
The meeting with ministers and regional leaders discussed how to protect
Italians “wherever possible, in all civil and criminal settings,” he said.
“It has been decided unanimously that these actions will begin in the next few days.”
The vaccine developed at record-breaking pace by Pfizer/BioNTech was approved for use in the European Union in late December and has been rapidly rolled out.
But Pfizer said last Friday it would delay shipments of vaccinations over the next three to four weeks due to works at its key processing plan in Belgium.
The following day, in a joint statement with German vaccine partner BioNTech, the US drugmaker said it had a plan to limit delays of deliveries to one week.
The delays have sparked concern across Europe, which has suffered badly from the pandemic — with Italy among the worst.
Arcuri said that 29 percent of promised doses were not delivered this week.
“The vaccination campaign cannot be slowed down, even less so for the administration of the second doses for the many Italians who have already been given the first.”
Italy has so far recorded more than 83,000 deaths from coronavirus and vaccinated more than 1.2 million people.