Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that developed the country’s first authorized COVID-19 vaccine, will begin counting the bonus dose of vaccine that pharmacists found in the vials late last year to fulfill their contractual obligations to the US government.
According to New York Times, the move became possible after the Food and Drug Administration changed the wording in the authorization – which provides public access to the COVID-19 vaccine – to note that six doses can be extracted from the vials.
While each vial was designed to contain only five doses of COVID-1
To extract the extra dose from the vial, pharmacists will need to use syringes with a small dead space, which maximizes the amount of vaccine that can be used per vial. However, as Politico notes, these syringes are not always available to pharmacists.
The Washington Post, citing an anonymous official concluding the talks, reports that the sixth dose will only be counted when sent with small syringes. The New York Times has since reported the same.
From The Washington Post:
The Biden administration and Pfizer finalized a deal Friday that will allow the government to track which shipments are accompanied by low-dead syringes and which are not, according to a person close to the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the details.
The vials, accompanied by regular syringes, will be counted as five doses against Pfizer’s contract for 200 million shots, and those accompanied by special syringes will be counted as six shots to fulfill the contract.
The New York Times, which first reported the change in language in the emergency authorization, reported that special syringes that could extract the extra dose could be available at more than 70% of vaccination sites.
From New York Times:
In late December, federal health officials tried to find out if there were enough specialized syringes to justify the change. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they were unsure whether the supply was sufficient, said a person familiar with the talks.
But federal health officials who manage government syringe contracts told the FDA that more than 70 percent of sites use more efficient syringes and that more can be easily purchased or manufactured, according to another person familiar with the situation.
In a statement to Politico on Friday, Pfizer spokesman Amy Rose said: “We will fulfill our delivery commitments in accordance with existing agreements – which are based on the delivery of doses, not vials.” According to The Washington Post, the Biden administration plans to increase the availability of syringes needed to extract the sixth dose. It is not clear how long this will take.
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