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Moderna Given Greenlight to Increase Vaccine Supply in Vials

Decision comes as Biden states all Americans won’t be vaccinated by the end of summer.

At its current pace, the United Sates is vaccinating about 1.3 million people per day with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. So far, nearly 30 million people have received at least 1 dose, that equals around 10% of the country’s total population. While these numbers are steadily increasing, the rollout is still not where it needs to be, and ways to increase administration are being pursued.

Now, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that they will allow Moderna to increase the amount of vaccine that they put in their vials by 40%. This will allow the company to up the number of doses from 10 to 14 in each vial.

The hopes are that this will allow the stock of vaccines to increase much faster than initially anticipated, getting more doses to more people who need them. However, the FDA still wants Moderna to submit data that shows an immediate 20% increase in each vial will not compromise the vaccine.

“It would be a great step forward,” Moncef Slaoui, who served as the scientific leader of the Trump administration’s vaccine development program said. “I think it will have an impact in the short term.”

Moderna is currently the second leading provider of COVID-19 vaccines in the US, supplying 48% of the country’s stock, just behind Pfizer who supplies around 52%. Pfizer’s vials only contain 6 doses of their vaccine, but since Moderna’s vials have enough extra space, they requested to be able to put more in.

However, problems from overstuffing the vials can arise. If they are filled too much, the vials can crack and there also needs to be enough room in them to ensure the proper extraction of the final dose. If a vial is punctured, it needs to be used or discarded within 6 hours. This poses an issue to pharmacists who may struggle to extract more doses in that time frame.

Recently, Johnson & Johnson has summitted an EUA request to the FDA, in hopes that their vaccine will be approved for emergency use and can be used to aid in the vaccination program. The company hopes to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June, but their manufacturing is still gearing up.