Pfizer's CEO Just Shared This Major Update
This news means you may be able to get your vaccine sooner than expected.
The COVID vaccine rollout has proved rocky, with some states already running out of doses. To make things more complicated, the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky, MD, recently said the government doesn't know how much vaccine the nation has, which makes it challenging to plan distribution and administration. However, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla just shared a major update on the company's vaccine that may help speed things up. On Jan. 26, Bourla announced that Pfizer can fulfill the U.S.' contracted 200 million doses two months earlier than projected. Read on to find out what's behind this timeline shift, and for more vaccine news, Moderna's Chief Medical Officer Just Gave This Upsetting Update.
Pfizer can provide the U.S. 200 million doses two months earlier than expected.
CNN reports that Bourla shared the encouraging news during the Bloomberg "The Year Ahead" event on Jan. 26. "In the U.S., we had promised to provide 100 million doses by the end of the first quarter, and we will be able to provide 120 right now," Bourla said. "The same is with the second quarter. We were planning to provide them all the way to 200 million doses by the end of the second quarter, actually beginning of the third. Right now, we will be able to provide the 200 million doses two months earlier." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
There is an extra dose in Pfizer's vaccine vials.
Pfizer is able to surpass its original goal because the company's vials yield more doses than expected. On Dec. 16, The New York Times reported that pharmacists discovered that most of Pfizer's vials meant to hold five doses actually contained enough product for a sixth dose. On Jan. 6, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an update to acknowledge the new discovery and allow states to put the sixth dose to use.
Per Bloomberg, Bourla said Pfizer was aware of the additional dose in the vial, but the company had to generate data to secure approvals from government authorities worldwide to make use of the sixth dose. Bourla said the increase from five to six doses per vial "provides an additional 20 percent capacity." And for more on the future of the pandemic, The Moderna CEO Just Made This Scary Prediction About COVID.
A special syringe is needed to administer the sixth dose.
According to the FDA update, "Low dead-volume syringes and/or needles can be used to extract six doses from a single vial. If standard syringes and needles are used, there may not be sufficient volume to extract a sixth dose from a single vial." As Bloomberg reported, Bourla said Pfizer has worked to supply governments with the necessary tools to extract the last dose. And for news on another COVID vaccine, These Are the Side Effects of the New Johnson & Johnson Vaccine.
Not every vaccination site is able to extract a sixth dose.
Squeezing out the sixth dose isn't possible everywhere. On Jan. 23, Sanjay Gupta, MD, neurosurgeon and chief medical adviser for CNN, told New Day the special syringes aren't available at every vaccination site, which could leave hundreds of unused sixth doses in the bottom of the vial. "Many places have them but not every place," Gupta noted.
According to CNN, the government has contracted McKesson, a medical supplies company, to assist in distributing the necessary syringe kits to ensure more sites have the ability to utilize the entire vial of vaccine without letting any dose go to waste. And for more vaccine news, Dr. Fauci Says He Had These Side Effects From His Second Vaccine Dose.