NEW YORK | U.S. group Becton Dickinson, the world’s largest syringe producer, said Monday that the production of syringes needed to extract six doses – instead of five – from a vial of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine -BioNtech remained “limited” for the moment.
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The vial initially officially contained five doses, but caregivers quickly realized that sometimes they could get at least a sixth dose, or even a seventh. One way to speed up vaccination.
Drug agencies in Europe and the United States confirmed in early January that the vials could well contain six doses.
But to take a sixth dose, you normally need a specific syringe, with a dead space, the volume that remains in the syringe once its plunger is fully depressed, very small.
But these are “niche products” and the demand for these syringes “is traditionally minimal,” said in a message to AFP a spokesperson for Becton Dickinson, Troy Kirkpatrick.
“For this reason, these products have a limited production capacity and it would take time” to increase it, he added.
When presenting its plan to fight the pandemic last week, the new US government highlighted the potential shortage of several medical products, including syringes with low dead space.
To combat this situation, Joe Biden invoked a law authorizing the authorities to force private companies to produce certain goods in an emergency, the Defense Production Act.
The US president again on Monday displayed his confidence in the deployment of vaccines, believing that the United States would move closer to collective immunity to COVID-19 by the summer.
In this context, Becton Dickinson “is proactively collaborating with the US government to discuss capabilities on low dead space syringes as well as its pre-filled syringe solutions that could optimize” the use of vaccines, Mr. Kirkpatrick.
“When we started planning with the US government for injection device requirements in spring 2020, the focus was not on low-dead space syringes, and priority was given to other devices.” , he recalled.
The company is committed to producing a total of more than one billion syringes for the COVID-19 vaccination, of which 286 million are in the United States. It had already delivered 150 million in late 2020 in the country and plans to distribute the rest by March.