Shortage of vials may slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout

As drugmakers race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, a shortage of medical glass needed to make vials to contain the vaccine may delay when the public gets it, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Medical glass was in shortage several months before the pandemic. Medical glass is different from the glass household containers or cups are made of because it has chemicals that make it resistant to drastic temperature changes and keeps vaccines stable, according to the Journal

Schott AG, one of the world's biggest makers of medical glass, told the Journal it has received requests for about a billion vials this year, nearly double its capacity to make. 

Johnson & Johnson has bought 250 million vials for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine.

Corning, another medical glass-maker, told the Journal it has reached a $204 million deal with the U.S. to expand its manufacturing capacity and produce vials for COVID-19 vaccines. Corning plans to produce tens of millions of vials in the coming weeks. 

Pfizer has signed a long-term supply agreement with Corning for medical glass, the Journal reported. 

The government also has given a $143 million contract to a privately held company called Si02 to make 120 million vials by November. 

Drugmakers are exploring using alternative packaging that could reduce the demand for medical glass, according to the Journal

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