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Pfizer Denies Its Vaccine Production Is Seeing New Delays – Barrons

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Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg

A Wall Street Journal report that said

Pfizer

is expected to ship half the predicted number of Covid-19 vaccine doses this year shook the stock market Thursday.

Pfizer’s stock (ticker: PFE) fell 2% in Thursday trading, to $40.09. Shares of

BioNTech

(BNTX) closed down 2%, at $118.68, and fell another 1% in after-hours trading. The stock of vaccine rival

Moderna

(MRNA) jumped 10%, to close at $157.26, then gave back 2% after hours.

That may have been an overreaction. Pfizer tells Barron’s that the numbers cited by the Journal’s story are out of date. The Journal wrote that raw material shortages would cut Pfizer’s vaccine global production this year from 100 million doses, to just 50 million. Yet Pfizer spokesperson Andy Widger says that Pfizer’s guidance since the second week of November has been for global deliveries of 50 million doses this year and 1.3 billion in 2021.

After its original publication, the Journal updated its story noting that Pfizer announced on Nov. 9 that it would scale its target for the number of vaccines produced this year.

For its part, Moderna has planned to distribute about 20 million doses this year in the U.S.

Both vaccine programs have been preparing their products ahead of government review and authorization. The U.K. gave Pfizer’s shots an emergency-use authorization on Wednesday, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will discuss the vaccine with a panel of outside experts on Dec. 10. A vaccine from

Moderna

will get its FDA advisory panel review on Dec. 17.

In an email, Widger says that Pfizer’s plants in the U.S. and Europe are set for full-scale production. “[F]inished doses are being made at a rapid pace,” he wrote.

Public health authorities have been wrestling with the question of who should get the first shots. A panel advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Tuesday that initial allocation should go to health-care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. About 50 million doses would be needed to complete the two-shot regimen for the 21 million American health-care workers and 3 million nursing home residents. CDC planners expected to get most of what is needed this year, saying that deliveries should arrive at a rate of 5 to 10 million doses a week.

Write to Bill Alpert at william.alpert@barrons.com

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