Pfizer says it has second doses of COVID-19 shot on hand, expects no U.S. supply problems

FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo

(Reuters) - Pfizer Inc has been holding on to second doses for each of its COVID-19 vaccinations at the request of the federal government and anticipates no problems supplying them to Americans, a spokeswoman said in a statement on Friday.

Pfizer’s comments run counter to a report in the Washington Post that the federal government ran down its vaccine reserve in late December and has no remaining reserves of doses on hand.

“Operation Warp Speed has asked us to start shipping second doses only recently,” the spokeswoman said. “As a result, we have on hand all the second doses of the previous shipments to the US.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment.

Pfizer has shipped more than 15 million doses to destinations around the United States, primarily from its Michigan facility, and expects to be able to produce around 2 billion doses worldwide in 2021, the spokeswoman said.

The United States has been struggling to administer the shots that have been distributed, however. Only around 12 million of the more than 31 million doses that have been shipped have been administered, according to data from the U.S. Centers from Disease Control and Prevention.

Scattered vaccine shortages were reported on the front lines of the U.S. battle against the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, prompting at least one large healthcare system to cancel a slew of appointments of people hoping to be inoculated.

Earlier on Friday, Pfizer announced there would be a temporary impact on shipments to European countries in late January to early February caused by changes to manufacturing processes to boost output. [L1N2JQ0V3]

Around nine of the 27 governments in the European Union complained of “insufficient” doses at a meeting this week, a participant said.

Reporting by Carl O’Donnell; Editing by Leslie Adler and Sonya Hepinstall