Manufacturers Shift Shipment Sizes As Demand For Coronavirus Vaccine Declines – Boston News, Weather, Sports
(CNN) – With the demand for Covid-19 vaccines declining, mass vaccination sites across the country are faced with a dilemma of how to administer vaccines without wasting precious doses.
National and local leaders have asked manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines to reduce the size of vaccine vials and the amount distributed.
“A lot of our health departments, especially those in rural America, tell us they need smaller dosage vials or we’ll have to deal with the waste,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of the ‘National Association of County and City Health Officials. CNN.
Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, says that while there is indeed pressure to get manufacturers to switch to fewer doses per vial, there is also a push to change the approach to vaccination. .
“We’re trying to educate (providers) that a missed opportunity is worse than wasted doses,” Hannan said. Vaccines should also not be kept away from people for fear of wasting doses of partially used lots, she said. “If someone does come to them, they should vaccinate, even if they can’t use the doses left in the vial in the allotted time,” she said.
New approaches for mass vaccination
According to the latest figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26% of the US population is fully vaccinated. Experts say that to stop the transmission of the virus, a point known as herd immunity, between 70 and 85% of the population must be protected by vaccination or antibodies against natural infection.
However, demand for vaccines has started to slow and about a quarter of Americans say they will not get the vaccine, according to a new CNN poll conducted by the SSRS.
At this point, Hannan said that waste is to be expected, especially as the next phase of vaccination moves to private practices. “We know they can’t manage their practices while still getting exactly the right number of doses used every six or 12 hours,” Hannan said.
Freeman said local and state health departments are considering how to quickly deal with the potential additional doses available.
“We are thinking more and more about this so that there are ready outlets that could be set up and have the capacity to quickly take vaccines to administer them or transfer them to other states that might need it. a supply, ”she said. “But systems must also be put in place to facilitate this type of transfer.”
Manufacturers introduce new options
Pfizer and Moderna have announced plans to help meet needs as the country’s vaccination campaign enters a new phase.
Pfizer says it will offer smaller size shipments at the end of May to give more flexibility to vaccination sites.
The current shipment size is a 195 vial package containing 1170 doses. The new, smaller shipment sizes will include three packs of 25 vials, for a total of 450 doses. Vaccination sites will have the option of choosing either shipment size.
As the US vaccination campaign began in December and January, the goal was simply to release “massive amounts of doses,” Tanya Alcorn, Pfizer’s vice president for the global supply chain, told CNN.
With fewer Americans rushing to get the vaccine, in February and March, the company began to hear a different set of concerns from the sites, that “we would need to help them with an easy, waste-free vaccination. of doses, ”Alcorn said.
Pfizer says it is also exploring other avenues to give more options to administration sites.
The company aims to launch what it calls a ready-to-use formulation by the end of 2021. That would mean the vaccine will no longer require a diluent.
Currently, Pfizer’s vaccine is available in a concentrated formulation that requires the addition of a saline solution to be diluted before it is administered. The new formulation would eliminate this step and allow the vaccine to be stored at -20 ° C, the temperature of a standard freezer, for up to six months.
The current six-month storage temperature for the vaccine is -80 degrees Celsius to -60 ° C although it can also be stored at -25 ° C to -15 ° C for two weeks and between 2 ° C and 8 ° C. ° C for up to five days before mixing with saline solution.
By the first quarter of 2022, Pfizer also expects to have a single-dose product available for distribution. It would be a lyophilized formulation. Pfizer says this powdered form of the vaccine is said to be more stable than the liquid version and is therefore designed to be stored and shipped at 2-8 ° C.
Both of these new variants would require regulatory clearance or approval before they are available.
Moderna’s approach is different.
Its vaccine can be stored in normal freezers and does not require the ultra-cold transport network that Pfizer vaccine requires, making it more accessible for small facilities and local communities.
The company is also expected to start shipping larger vials of its Covid-19 vaccine in the coming weeks, Freeman said. The vials will be increased from 10 to 15 doses of vaccine.
The new vials, which the company said were cleared by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month, can hold a maximum of 15 doses.
Freeman projected that these new vials would be in the hands of states by the third week of May, although Moderna told CNN by email on Wednesday that the availability date of these vials had not yet been disclosed.
“It doesn’t really help state and local health departments who find that larger dose vials are not as conducive or flexible for some of the work they have to do with populations that remain to serve,” Freeman said.
Moderna’s move to larger vials is an effort to “increase the number of doses it receives by increasing the size of the vial,” Freeman said. “It was the best way they determined they could increase the doses.”
Prevent waste in Philadelphia
The race to make the best use of vaccine vials, in their current size, is being played out for cities in real time.
In Philadelphia, for example, city officials this week urged those who are not vaccinated to receive their first dose. According to the city, a tally on Tuesday night showed 4,000 doses would expire on Thursday.
A spokesperson for the Philadelphia Department of Health said demand had fallen across the city, following regional and national trends. In Ohio, mass vaccination sites have been closed due to declining demand. Local and state health leaders across the country are seeing similar declines in demand.
Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Charlie Elison said Philadelphia had a “good plan” for using all doses on Thursday.
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