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Pfizer to ship fewer vaccine vials than expected after extra doses discovered

Pfizer to ship fewer vaccine vials than expected after extra doses discovered
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Pfizer will be providing the U.S. with fewer overall COVID-19 vials than originally expected, after it was discovered that each vial contained more vaccine doses than initially thought, The New York Times reports.

In December, it was determined that each vial of the pharmaceutical corporation's vaccine could provide six doses when properly extracted. Previously, it was thought that only five doses could come from each vial.

Pfizer on Jan. 6 successfully convinced the Food and Drug Administration to change the messaging on its fact sheets to state that each vial contains six doses. The change means that Pfizer can fulfill its agreement of providing the U.S. with 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July with less product.

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"We will fulfill our supply commitments in line with our existing agreements – which are based on delivery of doses, not vials – and we are confident in our ability to deliver 200 million doses of our vaccine to the U.S. government by July 31st," a Pfizer spokesperson told The Hill.

"In a situation of limited vaccine supply amidst a public health crisis, our intent with this label change is to provide clarity to healthcare providers, minimize vaccine wastage, and enable the most efficient use of the vaccine," the spokesperson added.

Pharmacists have expressed concern over the new dosage instructions, arguing that extracting exactly six doses per vial is a tricky task and requires a specialty syringe.

"Now there’s more pressure to make sure that you get that sixth dose out," Michael Ganio, the senior director for pharmacy practice and quality at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, told the Times.

According to the Times, Pfizer's contract with the federal government stipulates that it get paid by the dose.

Pfizer did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment, but company Chief Executive Albert Bourla told the Times that the acknowledgement of the extra doses allows the corporation to stretch its vaccine supply.

The Pfizer news comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its vaccine guidance Friday to allow for the mixing of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Under the new guidelines, either vaccine can be given to patients during their treatment, so long as they're administered at least 28 days and up to six weeks apart.

Updated: 8:34 p.m.