A shipment of 350,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to Spain has been postponed one day to Tuesday, the county’s health minister said on Monday.
In an interview with radio station Cadena Ser, Salvador Illa said Pfizer told Spain’s Health Ministry that “an incident in loading and shipping processes related to temperature” in the company’s Belgian factory caused delays that affect eight countries, including Spain.
Illa said he expects the hundreds of thousands of doses to be in place by Tuesday morning, although he said he “was not aware” if the vaccines had already left the Belgian factory.
This means delays in vaccinations across Spain. Officials in Extremadura have confirmed they will push back the next day of vaccination until Wednesday or Thursday due to the logistical hiccup.
Spain is set to receive a total of 8 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, said Illa, and this delay is not expected to affect the number of doses.
On Sunday, parts of Germany also faced delays in vaccinations after temperature trackers showed some of the doses were kept in higher temperatures than allowed by the manufacturer.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has a highly complex logistical chain. It must be stored at around minus 70 degrees Celsius (94 degrees Fahrenheit) and be shipped in special boxes that are filled with dry ice. Once out of the shipping boxes, the vaccine can be frozen at ultra-low temperatures again or kept at between 2 C (35 F) to 8 C (46 F) for a maximum of five days.
Spain started its vaccination campaign on Sunday and is prioritizing residents and workers in nursing homes.
Nearly 25,000 people are estimated to have died of COVID-19 in Spain’s nursing homes, according to data compiled by Spanish broadcaster TVE.
In the Cadena Ser interview, Illa said the pandemic will continue until 70% of the population has been immunized, something the government could achieve by “the end of summer.”
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