As millions of people across the country line up for the coronavirus vaccine, health officials are struggling to meet the rapidly increasing demand due to short supply.
“To be honest, it is more valuable than liquid gold,” said Melanie Massiah-White, chief pharmaceutical officer of Inova Health System, a non-profit hospital network in Northern Virginia.
Some pharmacists say that a simple solution can get thousands of people vaccinated every week, but the Food and Drug Administration hinders this process.
This is the so-called “pooling”-this is not a new concept. For years, pharmacists have been doing various things, from flu vaccines to chemotherapy to antibiotics. It involves mixing the residue left in a medicine bottle with the residue in another medicine bottle to produce a full dose.
Dr. Stephen Jones, CEO of Inova Health System in Falls Church, Virginia, said: “The bottom of the bottle doesn̵
Inova Health is one of the largest hospital systems in Washington, DC, and its pharmacists stated that even after using an additional sixth dose in Pfizer’s vials, they began to notice a large amount of remaining vaccine in almost every vial. But due to FDA regulations, they were forced to throw out additional vaccines.
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Marcia White said: “This is heartbreaking for us.” “We have multiple team members working here in turn, at least every day someone says,’Why can’t we concentrate and waste?'”
Inova’s pharmacist conducted an experiment and took 100 vials containing residual vaccine. 80 of them have a large amount of money left. The pharmacist found that by putting the vaccine in 80 vials, they could inject another 40 doses. This means that on a typical vaccination day, the hospital usually injects more than 4,000 vaccines, and in the case of the same supply, the hospital may inject another 400 injections.
Jones said: “If we can simply put them together and use them immediately, we will increase the number of free vaccines.”
Experts say this is a simple process that pharmacists have been doing for many years.
If one vial is contaminated, this practice will spread the contaminant to other vials, prolong the presence of pathogens and increase the possibility of disease transmission.
Stefanie Ferreri, chair of the practice development and clinical education department of the Escherman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina, said: “This is a common practice in vaccines.” She said there are only the same batch number. Vaccines can be used in combination so that clinicians can track the source of any problems (such as abnormal side effects).
The FDA stated that although mergers are common, pharmacists and other clinicians cannot merge the remaining Covid-19 vaccines because neither Moderna nor Pfizer products contain preservatives to prevent the vaccine from being contaminated by bacteria or other bacteria to prevent microorganisms. Grow.
An FDA spokesperson said in a statement: “This is an infection control measure.” “When using this needle and syringe, multi-dose drugs cross-contamination with other drugs, and this contamination leads to serious bacterial infections. One vial is contaminated. This practice spreads the contamination to other vials, thereby prolonging the pathogen and increasing the possibility of disease transmission.”
However, pharmacy experts say that the risk of cross-contamination is low, and the benefits of increasing the dose far outweigh any risks.
Ferreri said: “If the vial is not used immediately, the risk of contamination will be higher, because the vial does not contain preservatives.” “If a new vial with the same batch number is used immediately, the risk of contamination is extremely high. low.”
Inova health officials say that almost all doses of vaccine are used in large vaccination clinics like them, and they have established procedures to prevent any type of cross-contamination.
Massiah-White said: “We will use these doses within 60 minutes.” “They will not sit down. They will not return to room temperature. We will be able to shoot these lenses into our arms quickly in our clinic.”
But for now, as Americans wait for injections and vaccine manufacturers speed up production to meet growing demand, the vaccination process is still a waiting game.
Jones said: “Ultimately, when there is enough vaccine, it’s okay to waste some at the bottom.” “But now, we are still short of millions of doses. Therefore, some extra doses in each set of bottles will actually make Hundreds of people benefit every day.”