Panama on Wednesday will receive its first 12,840 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine against Covid-19, a much smaller shipment than expected, due to an announced global delay in deliveries from the laboratory.
“The batch will arrive by plane on Wednesday 20 at 02:00 (07:00 GMT) to the Tocumen International Airport,” the Health Ministry said Tuesday in a statement.
According to the note, Pfizer notified Panama on Monday that there will be 12,840 doses of vaccines in this first shipment and not the 40,000 that, according to the Panamanian government, the multinational had initially promised to deliver before January 25.
The Panamanian government says that Pfizer has assured that the lower shipment is due to changes to its production plant, which will temporarily limit supply to Europe and Latin American countries.
“Pfizer reported that on February 15 of this year, when they resume production, shipments will be accelerated so that the 450,000 doses agreed to for Panama are received in the first quarter of 2021,” the statement added.
Panama expects to receive 3 million doses of the vaccine in a phased manner from the Pfizer / BioNtech laboratory as part of a $36 million contract.
With its arrival, Panama will become the second country in Central America — after Costa Rica — to receive a vaccine against the coronavirus.
In total, it expects to receive 5.5 million doses from three different laboratories, for which it will pay $55 million.
Panama, with 4.2 million inhabitants, has the highest number of COVID-19 infections in Central America, with almost 300,000 accumulated cases and 4,828 deaths.
The country is in the midst of a spike of infections and deaths. The situation has caused the government to consider renting refrigerated containers in which to store the dead in the face of saturated morgues and hospitals.
Authorities have also had to activate different infrastructure, such as opening an unfinished hospital, installing field hospitals and hiring Cuban doctors to care for the sick.