Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The five doses/six doses débacle

This whole discussion of whether five or six doses can be extracted from each vial of Pfizer vaccine just boggles my mind.

The latest I have read is that Japan, which will start its vaccination program next week (and we think OUR vaccine roll-out has been slow here in Canada!), admits that it will end up throwing out millions of  the 144 million Pfizer doses it has ordered, just because it does not have anything like enough of the special "low dead space" syringes it need to squeeze out that final sixth dose.

Canada has recently come down on six doses per Pfizer vial, and is investing in more of the specialty syringes (which - go figure! - are now in short supply) in order to achieve that, thinking to squeeze more vaccine out of the available reduced supply from the company. But Pfizer has just turned round and said, well, in that case, we'll just send you fewer vials because the contract was for doses, not vials. The cheek!

In fact, in theory, it should be possible to get SEVEN doses out of the liquid in each vial, but no-one has figured out how to do that in practice. And anyway, it seems like there would be no point in trying...

Many questions spring to mind. Why is this only an issue with the Pfizer vaccine (or maybe it's not)? Could Pfizer really not arrange for six doses to be accessible to everyone, regardless of the syringes they happen to have? Did they know this was going to happen and just didn't bother to mention it (they have been selling the vials marked as containing 5 doses, but most countries were ordering syringes several months ago so this issue could have been pre-empted)? Does Pfizer also happen to sell the special syringes needed? 

People were suspicious and mistrustful of big pharma companies before the vaccine débacle. They are even more so now.

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