FDA reveals vials of Pfizer’s vaccine contain extra doses that could be given to 6.86 million Americans by Christmas
- Pharmacists across the U.S. have discovered vials of Pfizer’s coronavirus shot contain up to 40% more vaccine than expected
- Many vials have enough of the scarce vaccine to give six or seven doses, instead of the intended five
- Overfilling is a common practice in vaccine production, and is probably not a mistake on Pfizer’s part
- FDA officials advised states that, given the covid emergency, the extra doses can be used
- If all vials expected to ship this week and next, there could be enough spare vaccine for 1.96 million doses, bringing total to 8.68 vaccinations by Christmas
That means Pfizer is shipping enough vaccine to give 4.06 million Americans their first dose, instead of the intended 2.9 million doses.
And the FDA is says that the leftover vaccine can be used, a spokesperson told Politico.
‘Given the public health emergency, FDA is advising that it is acceptable to use every full dose obtainable,’ the spokesperson said.
It’s most likely not a mistake on the drugmaker’s part; vaccine vials are commonly over-filled by manufacturers to account for spills or other user errors.
Unfortunately, some pharmacists have already thrown away the extra precious drops of vaccine.
For those that didn’t toss the dregs, pharmacists have found between one and two extra doses worth of vaccine in the vials.
FDA officials told states they can use extra doses in vials of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. Over-filling is a common practice in vaccine manufacturing
A vial of Pfizer’s vaccine is labelled to contain five doses.
But each may actually have enough of the serum to vaccinate six or even seven people with their first dose.
That could be a major boon for the rollout of vaccines.
Pfizer cut its global supply aim for the end of the year from 100 million to 50 million.
It is shipping 2.9 million doses this week, and another two million – considerably fewer than the first wave – next week, Operation Warp Speed officials said Wednesday.
But neither Pfizer nor the U.S. government have specified exactly how many of its 50 million global doses will go to Americans by the end of the month.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday the firm had run into manufacturing issues.
The federal government is working with Pfizer to find fixes to these issues, but it’s unclear how the vaccine rollout might be affected.
The Trump administration also missed out on a chance to buy more doses of the shot, offered by Pfizer over the summer.
Now, Operation Warp Speed is trying to negotiate the purchase of 100 million more doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.
In the meantime, Pfizer’s short-term production is key to meeting the U.S. government’s goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans before the end of the year.
Pfizer and Moderna have both made two-dose shots.
To do that, it will need all 20 million doses promised this month by Moderna – assuming its vaccine is approved this week by the FDA – and 20 million more from Pfizer.
According to Politico, the FDA notified Pfizer about the reports of extra doses, and sent guidance to states on Wednesday, telling them it’s okay to use the extra vaccine.
But some states, like Utah, are telling pharmacists to use just the originally prescribed five doses from each vial.
Federal regulators have not yet publicly announced the updated guidance encouraging the use of extra vaccine.
If the vials slated to ship out next week contain as much extra vaccine as this week’s do, there could be enough of Pfizer’s shot to give 6.86 million Americans their first dose of the Pfizer shot by Christmas, instead of just 4.9 million.