Berlin, 1 February 2021 (dpa/MIA) – German vaccine developer BioNTech pledged early Monday to ramp up its deliveries to the European Union by up to 75 million additional doses in the second quarter, amid huge pressure on Germany and other countries to speed up vaccinations.
The announcement from the Mainz-based firm, which has partnered up with US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer to deliver its vaccine, came just hours ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meeting with top officials to discuss Germany’s sluggish vaccination roll-out.
“We continue to work on increasing the deliveries from the week beginning February 15 in order to ensure the delivery of the full amount of vaccine doses in the first quarter as stated in the contract,” BioNTech chief financial officer Sierk Poetting said in a statement.
“In addition, we could deliver up to 75 million additional doses to the European Union in the second quarter,” he added.
The bloc has been forced to defend its vaccine strategy in recent weeks, particularly after logistical problems forced British-Swedish company AstraZeneca to announce that it could only initially provide far fewer doses than promised of its vaccine.
Merkel’s talks, billed as a “vaccine summit,” will include the premiers of Germany’s 16 states, as well as representatives from vaccine producers and the European Commission, which buys vaccines on behalf of EU member states from various companies.
The video conference is expected to begin at 2 pm (1300 GMT).
Ahead of the meeting, Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller called for a national vaccination plan for Germany.
Currently, state administrations are responsible for planning and executing the inoculation drive in their regions.
Several regional officials have demanded clarity on the quantity and timing of vaccine deliveries so that vaccination centres can better plan.
Since vaccinations began in Germany on December 27, over 2.3 million jabs have been administered, according to Health Ministry data.
Some 2.2 per cent of the population have received an initial dose, with a second required for full protection.
Late Sunday, Health Minister Jens Spahn pointed to supply problems in the face of huge global demand in attempting to manage the German public’s expectations.
“We cannot produce more vaccines with a summit alone,” he told the Bild live broadcaster, referring to Monday’s conference.