The bloc has received its first doses of the vaccine from pharmaceutical company Pfizer, however, Spain’s health ministry said the company had been unable to deliver to eight European countries because of a “problem in the loading and shipment process” at its factory in Belgium. The difficulties were then found to be due to complications in keeping the doses cold enough. Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, said deliveries had been delayed by one day because of the issue.
The health minister said it was “linked to the control of the temperature” of doses.
The Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at minus 70C.
To transport the vaccine must be packed in dry ice boxes.
At distribution points, it can then be stored at between 2-8C for a maximum of five days.
Andrew Widger, a Pfizer spokesman, said: “Due to a minor logistical issue, we have rescheduled a limited number of our deliveries.
“The logistical matter has been resolved and those deliveries are now being dispatched.
“There are no manufacturing issues to report.”
Pfizer did not elaborate as to which EU states the vaccine could not be delivered to.
The vaccine has also been delayed in several German cities because of cold storage issues.
German temperature tracking equipment indicated that 1,000 doses may have risen above 8C after leaving distribution points, causing them to become ineffective.
The EU has said it will purchase two billion vaccine doses from different firms to be administered to all adults during 2021.
This news boosted spirits on the continent as a new strain of the deadly pathogen spreads rapidly.
Meanwhile, deaths in Germany from the virus have increased causing the government to consider extending their lockdown into mid-January.
German federal interior minister Horst Seehofer said it was too soon for Germany to relax its lockdown.
Speaking to the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, he said: “If the lockdown works and the numbers go down, then we cannot risk everything we have achieved with the swift loosening of the rules, otherwise it will all begin anew.
“And if the lockdown hasn’t had enough of an effect, the measures must be tightened.
“We have to prevent a third wave at any cost.”