Italy plans to take legal action against the American drugmaker Pfizer for delays in the delivery of coronavirus vaccines, Domenico Arcuri, Italy’s special commissioner for the pandemic, said in a statement on Tuesday night.
On Friday, Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, said they would deliver fewer doses than expected to European Union countries this week because they were changing the production process to increase future supply. They said deliveries would return to the original schedule next week.
Italian officials discussed the situation with company officials on Tuesday.
“The result of today’s dialogue with Pfizer did not have the effect we were hoping for,” Mr. Arcuri wrote, announcing that Italy would press charges, both “civil and criminal, where possible” in coming days.
Mr. Arcuri said that Pfizer would not make up the shortfall in next week’s delivery, which would instead be smaller than previously expected. Italian officials worried that a shortage of doses could dangerously slow the country’s vaccination program, which has reached more than 1.2 million people so far, starting with health care workers and nursing-home residents.
Some regional governors announced that they would pause new vaccinations because of the shortage, and focus on distributing the second dose of the vaccine to people who had already received the first. But they warned that if the delays continued even the distribution of the booster doses would be at risk.
“The health care of Italian citizens is not a negotiable issue,” Mr. Arcuri said in the statement. “The vaccination campaign cannot be slowed down, especially for giving the second doses to the many Italians who already received the first.”
Pfizer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.