COVID vaccinations began in the U.S. in December, and while more than 26 million Americans have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, most people are still waiting their turn. With only two vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—Moderna’s and Pfizer’s—many states are reserving limited vaccine supplies for healthcare workers, essential workers, and people over a certain age. There may be good news, however, as vaccine manufacturer Moderna says there could be one thing that would help more people get the COVID vaccine sooner. Keep reading for Moderna’s suggestion on increasing vaccine availability, and for more vaccine news, If You’re Over 65, You Shouldn’t Get This New Vaccine, Experts Warn.
Moderna wants to increase the number of vaccine doses in each vial.
Moderna is asking the FDA to allow them to increase the amount of vaccine put into each of their vials by up to 50 percent, CNBC reports. According to The New York Times, the industry standard has long been 10 doses per vaccine vial. However, the manufacturer says it could raise the number of doses per vial up to 15, as long as it is approved by the FDA. And for more ways to protect yourself from coronavirus, These 3 Vitamins Could Save You From Severe COVID, Study Finds.
This increase could help ramp up a slow vaccine rollout.
According to The New York Times, the White House and health officials are trying to explore various ways to increase vaccine production before the spring, as experts expect a new surge of infections then as a result of emerging coronavirus variants. Experts say that vaccine production speeds are currently lacking. “We are having trouble producing these mRNA vaccines,” Paul Offit, MD, director of the Vaccine Education Center and a physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNBC. “We’re up to about 1.2 million doses a day when we need to be at 3 million doses a day.”
A source close to Moderna told CNBC that a large issue slowing production speeds is the manufacturing capacity to fill the vials. The ability to fill each vial with more doses could alleviate this issue and increase the number of vaccines produced. And for a pressing reason to get vaccinated, Dr. Fauci Just Issued This New Chilling Warning About COVID.
Pfizer’s vaccine has already been approved for an extra dose.
Pfizer’s vaccine was originally manufactured to hold five doses per vial. However, The New York Times reported on Dec. 16 that pharmacists had discovered that most of Pfizer’s vials actually contained enough product for an extra dose. On Jan. 6, the FDA made an amendment to its authorization in order to allow providers to use this sixth dose. That is as high as Pfizer’s vaccine can go, however, as the particular size of their vials can only hold about six doses—much smaller than Moderna’s, which is big enough to hold more than the 10 doses currently allowed. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
However, some complications may arise when adding extra doses to vials.
There are some issues that may make regulators hesitant to approve this request from Moderna. According to The New York Times, regulators could be concerned that the extra punctures by needles and the time required to extract extra doses might increase the risk of contaminating the vaccine with bacteria. Also, too much liquid could cause the vial to break, but Moderna has reportedly tested this and determined that vials won’t break at a limit of 15 doses. And for more essential vaccine guidance, You Should Never Do This After Getting the COVID Vaccine, Officials Say.