Shortage of special syringes means COVID-19 vaccines wasted

Eight states and multiple local health departments and officials say vaccine kits from the federal government contain an insufficient number of low-dead-space syringes, which help extract every last COVID-19 vaccine dose from vials, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The kits contain varying combinations of special syringes and regular ones. When administrators run out of the special syringes, they must use standard, less efficient alternatives. Amid the low-dead-space shortage, up to 17 percent of the Pfizer vaccine and up to 13 percent of the Moderna vaccine may be wasted.  

About 80 percent of the syringes in the kits for Pfizer vaccines are the low-dead-space type, officials have said, adding that many of the government kits for Moderna shots currently have few or none of the special syringes. The government will provide more special syringes for Moderna shots in the coming weeks, an HHS spokesperson told the Journal.  

After the shots were authorized in December, manufacturers overfilled the vials, meaning there were more doses in the Pfizer and Moderna vials than the label indicated. By using the special syringes, administrators can extract the extra doses and increase supply. So far, officials haven't observed overfilling in Johnson & Johnson vials, reports the Journal.

U.S. manufacturers say a major expansion in the production capacity of special syringes isn't set to occur until the second half of the year.

Public health departments such as Denver Health told the Journal that they're getting syringes on their own from suppliers outside of HHS, tapping distributors who typically get syringes from both domestic and international sources.


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