Health officials are worried about the increasing wastage of vaccines. And Federal authorities are collaborating with vaccine-manufacturers to reduce the number of doses per vial.
The Us Appears To Discard Millions Of Vaccine-doses, The Reason? Multi-dose Vials
A worker in a clinic opened a vial of the Moderna vaccine. From that moment, the clock started ticking. The entire vial has to be used within hours of opening; ten doses. After a while, he changed his mind.
He waited for those looking for the Moderna vaccine. No one showed up. At the end of the day, he had to throw it off.This is one among the hundreds of such incidents happening across the country. Clinics find themselves unable to find people wanting to receive the doses of the vaccine-vials they open. Such instances have caused the country to waste more than 15000000 doses from March to August.
Health officials are now urging vaccine-manufacturers to re-consider their packing strategy. They have to reduce the number of doses in a single vial. Furthermore, it is creating difficulties for local authorities trying to take vaccines to the farthest corner of the country.
Almost all vaccines are available as single-dose vials in the country. The shots against COVID 19 were exempted. Manufacturers had to produce the highest number of doses within the shortest time available. This was the situation in the initial phase of the vaccination drive.
Multi-dose vials (up to 15 for Moderna, 6 for Pfizer and 5 for Johnson and Johnson) help companies streamline their production. But it leads to more wastage.
Reviewing reports from States demonstrates how vaccines are wasted. The Indian Health Service received a broken vial of Moderna. Ten doses went waste. A vaccine clinic in Michigan opened a Moderna vial for a patient. It could not find the nine more recipients to finish off the vial and the rest was wasted. One-third of the vaccines wasted were in small increments as per the data CDC recently released.
More and more States are requesting Federal authorities to reduce the number of doses in a single vial. This way, they can minimize wastage.
When responding to the request, the Department of Health and Human Services said that it is collaborating with vaccine-manufacturers in the matter. The Department also said that each manufacturer will need different sizes to reduce the number of doses contained. It, however, did not reveal any further.
CDC, however, has not included the reports of several States and has excluded large Federal agencies from its review of the wastage of vaccine-doses. In fact, it is almost impossible to calculate the same in the country. But according to experts, it is sure to be below 15%.
Reducing the number of doses in a vaccine-vial will resolve the issue. But that will affect the pace of the manufacture of vaccines. It will also make the production a costly affair.
Pfizer said that it is working to reduce the number of doses per vial. Johnson & Johnson said that its five-dose vial complies with the UN stipulations in the present scenario. It is easier to produce, convenient to administer and complies with the standards UN has set.
Several States are criticizing vaccine-manufacturers for the large vials they distribute. However, doing the same is a tough challenge for manufacturers. Such a move will create the following scenarios:
- Manufacturing vaccines will become costlier
- Single-dose vials will consume more specialized storage space.
- It will make the global shortage of vaccines worse.
Manufacturing single-dose vaccines vials is never a solution. Companies will need time to resolve the issue in such a way that it will not affect the current pace of production.