In statements to NBC News, Melanie Masia White, director of pharmacy at the Inova Medical Foundation, a non-profit hospital network based in northern Virginia, said that the vaccine has become “more valuable than liquid gold.”
And some pharmacists assert that a simple solution could lead to providing additional vaccinations to thousands of people every week, but the Food and Drug Administration stands in the way.
The proposal is based on the so-called “grouping”, which is not a new concept, as pharmacists have traditionally resorted to it in everything, whether with regard to influenza vaccines, or some chemotherapy drugs, or antibiotics, and is based on collecting what remains in a vaccine vial and integrating it With the remainder in another vial, to produce a full dose.
It’s not a lot, “Innova” CEO Dr. Stephen Jones told NBC News, “But in the end, all in all, this adds up to a lot of doses that end up in waste. We are allowed to use this additional vaccine. “
“Sometimes there is an almost full dose left at the bottom of the bottle, and it is heartbreaking to let that go to waste,” Jones added.
Pharmacists of “Innova”, one of the largest hospital systems in the US metropolitan area, say they have begun to notice large quantities of residual vaccine in nearly every vial, even after using the additional sixth doses in Pfizer vials, but because of FDA regulations, They are forced to throw out what is left in the flasks.
Each vial contains six full doses of the vaccine, in addition to an amount equivalent to about half a dose. Members of the medical teams in “Innova” daily ask: “Why can’t we collect the remains?”
The “Innova” pharmacists conducted an experiment, and it was found that the remnants of the vaccine in 80 vials out of a hundred, were sufficient to manufacture an additional 40 full doses, which means that the hospital that provides 4 thousand vaccinations on the day of a typical vaccination can provide 400 additional vaccinations. With the same supply, every day.
But the instructions of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require pharmacists to commit to giving only 6 doses from each vaccine vial, and to destroy what is left, because the moderna and Pfizer vaccines do not contain preservatives that help stop the growth of microbes, in the event that the drug is contaminated with bacteria or Other germs.
In contrast, pharmacy experts say the risk of contamination is low, and the benefits of taking more doses far outweigh any risks.
Inova health officials confirm that all doses are used almost immediately in large vaccination clinics, such as their own, and that they already have protocols in place to protect against any kind of contamination.
Jones notes that wasting what is left in the vials, if enough vaccinations are available, “won’t matter,” and adds: “But at the moment, we have a shortage of millions of doses, so a few extra doses from each group of vials will make a difference. To hundreds of people a day. “