300,000,000 additional vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech have been secured by the European Union, according to an announcement from Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday.
The European Commission is extending its contract with Pfizer/BioNtech, according to the press release. The 27 member states of the EU are working as one on securing the vaccine, the Commission President stated, clarifying that “no member state is allowed to negotiate in parallel.”
Von der Leyen noted that “The only framework in which we negotiate is that the 27 do so together and no Member State on this legally binding basis is allowed to negotiate or contract in parallel.”
Six doses — not five — per vial of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) also now recommends getting an additional dose per vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19, going from the initial five to six doses per vial — which means a 20% increase in vaccinations per the allotted amount received.
Initially, users had been able to get only five doses per bottle of the vaccine.
“The EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommends updating the product information to ensure that each vial contains six doses of the vaccine,” the European regulator said in a statement.
The EMA warns, however, that “if conventional syringes and needles are used, there may not be enough vaccine to get a sixth dose out of the vial.” The first medical professionals to use the vaccine on the public outside of laboratory trials noted that if they were exceptionally careful, they could get six full doses out of the vials which were said to have contained only five doses of the precious inoculation.
The body also warns that if a full dose of 0.3 milliliters is not available in any vial after the fifth dose, “the healthcare professional should discard the vial and its contents.”
Using what is left in other vials, however, to make up a full dose, should not be accepted practice, the EMA cautioned.
The European Medicines Agency authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on December 21, after which the European Commission immediately gave the green light for inoculations to begin.
Just that one extra dose per vial can significantly increase the number of people being vaccinated every day in Europe, where many governments are now blaming the EMA for a very slow-moving vaccination campaign.
Friday’s announcement regarding the extra doses coincides with the European Union’s announcement of the agreement to supply an additional 300 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, doubling the already-existing order.