Some syringes sold by the federal government are not efficient enough to extract the sixth dose, causing hospitals to throw away valuable vaccines. Earlier this month, officials from Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine accelerator, acknowledged the problem and said the federal government was “quickly reviewing options” to reconfigure vaccination kits sent to vendors.
According to Pfizer, the label change was made to “provide clarity to health care providers, minimize vaccine waste and enable the most efficient use of the vaccine”.
The FDA told POLITICO that prior to changing the label, at Pfizer’s request, they were reviewing the availability of low dead volume syringes – the type needed to extract the extra dose – and those already made by the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency Changes have been considered with the extra fluid.
“By far the most important thing [FDA considered] The need to ensure that the maximum number of people in the US have been vaccinated as soon as possible, as using 6 doses from the vials will vaccinate 16.6 percent more Americans than 5 doses, “a spokesman said.
But without enough specialized syringes, Pfizer’s decision likely means the US will have fewer usable doses than it expected.
The FDA label change is the latest twist in a troubled rollout that sees vaccinations falling far short of targets set by the Trump administration.
President Joe Biden signed Executive Orders this week, citing the Defense Production Act, to expedite the availability of certain supplies quickly. According to a White House official, the agencies are finding supply bottlenecks, such as the lack of efficient syringes. However, it is unclear when production would increase.
The Centers for Disease Control alerted some state officials on Thursday when the agency said it counted Pfizer’s vaccine bottles as holding six doses, according to an email the agency received from POLITICO. The CDC said it would increase the number of syringes that come with the vaccine, but that it may not be the “low dead volume” variety that is capable of extracting the extra doses.