The delivery of a small number of vaccine doses from Pfizer to several countries in the European Union suffered a minor delay after concerns about the temperature controls being used to keep the doses super cold. The issue forced shipments from a factory in Belgium to be pushed back a day, according to the Spanish health authorities.
Pfizer’s factory in Puurs, Belgium, told the company’s Spanish division on Monday night that shipments to eight European countries would be delayed “because of a problem in the process of loading and sending,” the Spanish ministry said in a news release.
The release did not specify which countries beside Spain were affected. When asked about the delay on the Spanish radio broadcaster Ser, Salvador Illa, the health minister, said that the problem was linked to the “control of the temperature” of the shipments and had been resolved.
The doses, he said, should arrive on Tuesday, one day late.
A Pfizer spokeswoman, however, said that while there was a “minor logistical issue,” there were “no manufacturing or temperature control issues to report.”
The delay underscored the logistical challenges of speeding millions of doses of vaccine that need to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius around the world as fast as possible.
On Sunday, the first day of the vaccination campaign in Europe, there was also a minor problem with the cold-chain process in Germany: Concerns about 1,000 shots not being cold enough delayed efforts around Lichtenfels, in Bavaria.
“When reading the temperature loggers that were enclosed in the cool boxes, doubts arose about the compliance with the cold chain requirements,” the district of Lichtenfels said in a statement.
By late Sunday, the problems were resolved and the campaign commenced.