Pfizer said it has millions of doses of vaccine sitting in a warehouse because the federal government hasn’t told it where to send them

Pfizer covid 19 vaccine shipment
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan on December 13, 2020. Morry Gash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
  • Pfizer released a statement Thursday to deny claims that it was having issues producing its COVID-19 vaccine. 

  • It came after officials in more than a dozen states complained that they were receiving fewer doses than promised, and a Trump official claimed there were “manufacturing challenges.”

  • In its statement, Pfizer said it was “not having any production issues” and in fact has millions of doses sitting in a warehouse, awaiting government orders on where to ship them to.

  • Two anonymous Trump officials told the Associated Press the doses are in storage on purpose, held back to ensure that people who had their first shot can get the second one.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Pfizer said Thursday that millions of COVID-19 vaccines are sitting in storage because the US government hasn’t given it directions on where to send them yet. 

The statement was released a day after Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar suggested at a press conference that the drug company was having “manufacturing challenges,” The Hill reported. 

Governors and health officials in more than a dozen states have also complained about getting fewer doses than they expected, according to the Associated Press.

Illinois, Washington, California, Georgia, Hawaii, and Nevada are getting around half the doses they expected, according to the AP and NBC News.

new york woman vaccine
Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, on December 14, 2020. Lindsay is believed to be the first person in the US to receive the drug. Mark Lennihan/AFP/Getty Image

Pfizer said in the Thursday statement that the company is “not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine” and that “no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed.”

“This week we successfully shipped all 2.9 million doses that we were asked to ship by the US Government to the locations specified by them,” the statement adds.

“We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.” 

Two senior Trump administration officials who spoke anonymously to the Associated Press on Thursday said that the doses are being held at Pfizer’s Michigan manufacturing plant on purpose. 

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It had always been the plan to distribute only 2.9 million of the 6.4 million doses produced in a first wave, the officials said.

Another 2.9 million are in reserve to make sure that people who got the first part of the two-shot vaccine would be able to get the necessary second dose, they said.

Another 500,000, per the officials, were being held to the side in case of any unforeseen problems. 

The unnamed officials blamed the complaints from state officials on a misunderstanding, and said the full allocation will arrive.

They said the government had changed the delivery schedule of the vaccine so that states aren’t getting all of their allotment at once, at the request of governors, who hoped spaced-out deliveries would be more manageable. 

“They will get their weekly allocation, it just won’t come to them on one day,” one official told the AP.

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