Distributing coronavirus vaccine vials with five doses each is good. Finding that six or seven doses could be drawn from each vial is better. Using the full dosage available would be best.
Since the vaccine started being distributed Monday, pharmacists discovered that extra doses could be squeezed out of each Pfizer vaccine vial to potentially increase the supply by as much as 40%, according to Politico. Pharmacists had been throwing away the vial’s overflow to keep to the instructions of administering five doses, but the Food and Drug Administration said late Wednesday that the extra doses can be used.
“Given the public health emergency, FDA is advising that it is acceptable to use every full dose obtainable,” an agency spokesperson told Politico in a message that matched what federal health officials sent to state vaccine providers on Wednesday morning. Pfizer learned the same later on Wednesday.
The extra doses result from how manufacturers typically overfill vaccine vials to guard against spills or other waste, but that an entire extra dose is unusual, University of Utah pharmacy expert Erin Fox told Politico. Pfizer heard from pharmacists nationwide once the surplus was noticed.
Extra doses could help the U.S. avoid a spring shortage if demand takes over the supply.
“The amount of vaccine remaining in the multidose vial after removal of five doses can vary, depending on the type of needles and syringes used,” Pfizer spokesperson Sharon Castillo told Politico. “At this time, we cannot provide a recommendation on the use of the remaining amount of vaccine from each vial. Vaccinators need to consult their institution’s policies for the use of multidose vials.”
With the Moderna order of 100 million vaccines not approved by the FDA yet, the discovery could make up for the government declining a summer offer to order more vaccines. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said any new order under current negotiation could not be ready until the summer.