US drugmaker Pfizer has stated that new EU rules about the movement of goods across borders hamper production of the company's COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer Vice President of Global Supply Danny Hendrikse said on Wednesday the rules stipulate that manufacturers need to seek European Commission approval before exporting each and every parcel of jabs, which leads to a "significant administrative burden and some uncertainty".
Pfizer's plant in Belgium currently supplies more than 70 countries with its vaccine.
"Ultimately what we would like our colleagues to do is to focus on making and distributing the vaccine", Hendrikse stressed, referring to the "particularly complex" process of obtaining all the raw materials needed for the inoculation.
He explained that the vaccine's components "don't just come from Europe, but from all over the world" and that for one dose, 280 components are needed. According to him, these are delivered from 86 suppliers based in 19 countries.
The remarks come after Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla underscored that approval of the pharmaceutical giant's coronavirus vaccine for children was a matter of "urgency".
He referred to the latest trial data pertaining to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which suggests the drug is safe and can effectively protect adolescents against COVID-19. About 2,250 children in the US aged between 12 and 15 took part in the said trial.
"We plan to submit these data to [the US medical regulator] as a proposed amendment to our emergency use authorisation in the coming weeks and to other regulators around the world, with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year", Bourla said.
He spoke after media reports said the EU and the UK were working to "ensure a reciprocally beneficial relationship between the UK and EU on COVID-19" amid the Brussels-London dispute over vaccine export controls.
Under the new possible agreement, the EU is expected to remove its export ban on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the UK and the UK will agree to provide the bloc with the Dutch-made Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
A number of countries earlier suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports the jab could cause blood clotting. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reiterated its recommendations late last week to use the AstraZeneca shot to obtain immunity from the coronavirus, suggesting that the vaccine's benefits probably outweigh its risks.