by Andrew Trunsky
Some vials containing Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine contain more doses than expected, potentially expanding the country’s supply by up to 40%, public health officials said late Wednesday.
The FDA advised that the extra doses were acceptable to use and that it was collaborating with Pfizer over the issue.
“The FDA is aware of the issue and working with Pfizer to determine the best path forward,” an agency spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “At this time, given the public health emergency, the FDA is advising that it is acceptable to use every full dose attainable (the sixth, or possibly even a seventh) from each vial, pending resolution of each issue.”
Pfizer’s vials were supposed to contain 5 vaccines doses, but pharmacists have been able to extract one or two additional doses out of some. The extra supply could mitigate some of excess demand seen across the country as health care workers compete with surging coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
The agency also warned against combining partial doses from different vials due to the risk of contamination.
“Since the vials are preservative free, it is critical to note that any further remaining product that does not constitute a full dose should not be pooled from multiple vials to create one,” a spokesperson told the DCNF.
Before the FDA cleared the way for extra doses to be administered, some pharmacists discarded hundreds of doses that they thought were unusable. Many reached out to Pfizer for clarification, but did not immediately receive guidance.
“The amount of vaccine remaining in the multi-dose vial after removal of five doses can vary, depending on the type of needles and syringes used,” a Pfizer spokesperson previously told Politico. “At this time, we cannot provide a recommendation on the use of the remaining amount of vaccine from each vial.”
News of the extra doses follows efforts by the Trump administration to purchase additional vaccine doses after reportedly passing on the opportunity to do so earlier this year. The U.S. government has been negotiating with Pfizer in an attempt to secure double the amount of vaccines originally purchased, but the company has said that it may not be able to provide them until mid-2021.
Pfizer announced that its vaccine was over 90% effective in November, and it was granted emergency authorization from the FDA last Friday. Distribution nationwide began this past weekend, and the first Americans began receiving vaccinations Monday.
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Andrew Trunsky is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.