Six doses must now be drawn from each of the Pfizer vaccine vials rather than five, which will allow the manufacturer to ship fewer vials into the country overall while boosting its profits.
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Health Canada has authorized the company to change the labeling of its COVID-19 vaccine vials to indicate that they each contain six doses and not five as originally intended.
The ministry is thus bending to the pressure of the manufacturer who has been demanding since January that we inoculate one more person with each of its vials.
This change will allow Pfizer to ship fewer vials domestically while earning more money.
Indeed, pharmaceutical customers will receive as many doses as expected and will therefore pay as much as expected, but the company will realize significant economies of scale since it will have to produce and ship fewer vials for the same. amount of money.
“The next deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech will reflect this change,” said Major General Fortin without specifying how much our deliveries will be cut.
In Europe, the imposition of a sixth dose per vial has resulted in a 20% decrease in deliveries of Pfizer vaccine vials, but also in serious discontent among the vaccination teams whose task is now more complicated.
In response, Sweden even suspended payments to Pfizer.
This is because to pump more liquid from the same vial, caregivers must use more expensive specialized syringes and be able to use them properly.
These are low dead volume syringes “designed so that a smaller amount of liquid remains in the tube,” says Health Canada.
At the moment, the majority of provinces do not have the necessary equipment, admitted Major General Fortin. But he assures us that the government has bought “millions” of low-volume syringes and that it will provide enough to the provinces on time.
The manufacturer must provide educational support to caregivers so that they adapt their inoculation technique. An online information session is scheduled for tomorrow.
Technically, 0.25 ml of residue should remain in the vial after all six doses have been extracted. But “of course you have to use the optimal technique” to get there, said Dr. Marc Berthiaume, director of the Bureau of Medical Sciences at Health Canada.
“Forcing the provinces to do more with less means that healthcare workers will have to receive training and change processes in the midst of a pandemic,” worries Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole.
In Quebec, the news did not seem to worry the national director of public health, Horacio Arruda.
“These little syringes will make it easier. But even with the other (syringes), we did not lose any (of) vaccines, ”he said.
But in Ontario, General Rick Hillier who is responsible for the distribution of vaccines in the province is not so positive.
He indicates that his teams are not always able to extract six doses from Pfizer vials and that there are variations from one box of vials to another.
For him, the sixth dose should be seen as a bonus, not a guarantee.
According to O’Toole, “the Liberals must tell Canadians if Pfizer is going to replace any lost dose if the provinces are unable to extract the sixth dose.”