Originally, each vial of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine was designed to hold five doses, but some pharmacists have said they can extract six doses using certain syringes.
As a result, the FDA approved an updated label stating: “Syringes and / or low dead volume needles can be used to extract six doses from a single vial. If standard syringes and needles are used, it may be that the volume is insufficient to extract a sixth dose from a single vial. “
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said this increase in doses per vial “provides 20% more capacity.” The New York Times first reported on Pfizer’s plans to base its vaccine commitment on doses rather than vials.
However, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta said on Friday that the ability to collect the sixth dose with these syringes was not everywhere.
“A lot of places have it,” Gupta told CNN’s John Berman, “but not everywhere.”
These changes highlight the desire to get as many people vaccinated as possible in an inconsistent supply chain.
As vaccination efforts expand, the pandemic continues unabated. Johns Hopkins University reported more than 186,000 new cases and 3,655 new deaths on Friday. At least 414,004 people have died in the United States from Covid-19.
‘This shouldn’t be the Hunger Games’
According to Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, states are struggling to cope with a slow deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine, due to a lack of information and a lack of financial support.
“I’m also eligible in Minnesota to get the shot and can’t find any,” Osterholm, a former coronavirus adviser to President Joe Biden, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Friday. “I want to share this frustration loud and clear.”
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that the state is well positioned for distribution, but the vaccine allocation has been bottled at private pharmacies across the country.
“Long-term care facilities in Utah have far too many vaccines. We estimate that they have 15,000 to 16,000 extra doses that they don’t need and cannot use at this time. So we’re taking that back and we’re giving it to our local health departments and it will be gone next week, ”Cox said.
Frustrations with vaccine distribution and concerns about the supply have spread across the country.
Louisiana has not set up mass vaccination sites because it does not have enough vaccines to run a site, Governor John Bel Edwards said on Friday.
New York State has administered 97% of its first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday, and is expected to run out shortly.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that she gets daily calls from people “desperately looking for the vaccine,” adding “I just don’t see an abundance of vaccines.”
Cox of Utah said competition between states at the start of the pandemic, when the federal government forced states to seek supplies such as personal protective equipment, should be avoided in the case of vaccines.
“It shouldn’t be the Hunger Games like it was with PPE, right. It was ridiculous and we all had to play this game,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat. The governors are in the same boat. We just need the information from the federal government and the manufacturers,” Cox said.
New administration, new realities
Biden’s coronavirus advisers have high hopes the shortages can be avoided, Dr Vivek Murthy, who is the candidate for surgeon general, said on Friday in a webcast to mayors.
Conversations with businesses “have given us more confidence that there is more supply to come and that it will continue to grow steadily over the next few months,” added Murthy.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Friday he expected positive news about a single dose vaccine against the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus in the coming weeks.
“I don’t want to get ahead of them, but I have to tell you that I would be surprised if in more than two weeks the data will be analyzed and decisions will be made,” Fauci said on MSNBC.
At least 195 cases of the variant have been identified in 22 U.S. states, according to the CDC.
“He didn’t become dominant,” Fauci said. “It’s possible. That’s the reason you have to watch it carefully as we go from January to February, and really watch it.”
Fauci endorsed the health recommendations. “It’s the kind of thing that prevents power surges regardless of … the type of virus.”
Maggie Fox, Madeline Holcombe, Lauren Mascarenhas, Raja Razek, Chuck Johnston, Hollie Silverman, Amanda Watts, Nick Neville, Andrea Diaz, Naomi Thomas, Michael Nedelman and Alta Spells contributed to this report.