Doctors use narrower NEEDLES to squeeze extra doses of coronavirus vaccines from vials of five, eight or 10 shots, experts say
- Needles contain 20 percent less ‘dead space’ where liquid gets stuck
- This means that additional Britons can be inoculated with supplies, increasing stocks
- Dr. Mary Ramsay of Public Health England disclosed the waste reduction measure
Doctors who deliver coronavirus vaccines use smaller needles to squeeze more doses from the vials, experts say.
Using needles that are narrower and have less space between the end of the syringe plunger and the beginning of the needle – also known as dead space – can reduce vaccine waste.
The needles have up to a fifth less dead space and can save enough vaccine fluid over the course of a vial that an extra dose can be drawn out.
Dr. Mary Ramsay, head of immunizations at Public Health England (PHE), revealed at a meeting of Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee that it was done.
She said an additional dose can be removed from both the Pfizer / BioNTech vials, which come in five doses, and the Oxford / AstraZeneca vials, which come in eight or ten.
It could give a significant boost to UK stocks, meaning more Britons could be vaccinated with each delivery.
For example, in a batch of five-dose vials intended for 1,000 people, getting an extra dose from each vial could stretch to immunize 200 more people.
AstraZeneca’s bosses, who appeared on the same committee, said they had no objection to the practice, but that vaccinators should always use a full dose and never make up one with leftovers from different bottles.
It is not clear how many centers are already using the narrower needles. Although Dr. Ramsay said they have been used since the start of the rollout.
It comes after it was revealed that a sixth or seventh dose could be extracted from vials of the Pfizer vaccine, due to extra fluid brought in by manufacturers.
They said this was applied to protect against spills and liquid seizing in the syringe, but if these are lowered, more doses can be removed.
An additional dose of the coronavirus vaccine can be extracted when narrow needles are used, Dr. Mary Ramsay of Public Health England has revealed.
Dr. Ramsay made the comments while speaking to Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee.
She said, “By using so-called low-dead space needles, we’ve been able to get more vaccine from each vial, and that’s happened with the Pfizer vaccine and it’s happened with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“So that means we generally need to get more vaccine, so that’s really good.”
The drugs and health care regulator, the MHRA, who approved both vaccines, had “no objection” to the use of needles.
It comes after two additional doses identified in vials of the Pfizer vaccine that promised to increase supply by 40 percent when extracted and used instead of thrown away.
The bottles say they hold five doses, but hold up to 2.25ml once prepared for administration – enough for seven full doses.
Vaccination centers have reported already taking advantage of this, and some have lists of people to call to make sure none is lost.
The Pfizer vials must be used within six hours of being thawed at -75C where they have been stored.
Peter Cast, 87, from Ashtead in Surrey is getting his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine today
So far, 2.6 million Britons have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as the government accelerates the rollout.
Boris Johnson has pledged to deliver the first dose by mid-February to the 13 million most at risk people – people over 70, NHS staff, nursing home residents and the vulnerable.
The military has been called in to help speed up delivery, and the pharmacy is also being asked to hand out doses on the high street.
And in another turnaround, the prime minister has said he will make 24/7 vaccination centers ‘as soon as we can’, but warned there may not be enough supply for this to happen immediately.
NHS England has been contacted to ask which vaccination centers use the narrow needles.