A simple solution could significantly expand Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine supply in the United States.
Politico first reported late Wednesday that pharmacists noticed that the coronavirus vaccine bottles had residual doses and that the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the overfill on Wednesday. The New York Times later confirmed the news.
The extra doses – one or two shots per vial – were at risk of being thrown away, and in some cases it had been because the FDA had stated that each vial was only intended for five shots. Politico reported that the additional doses could increase supply in the US by up to 40%.
"In view of the public health emergency, the FDA advises that it is acceptable to use any full dose available," an FDA spokesman told Politico.
Vaccine bottles are usually filled with a little more to account for possible spills.
Dr. Michael Consuelos, a health advisor, said on Twitter: “We saw this with the H1N1 vaccine  and often we were able to immunize more people than planned. There is always a little overcrowding. It is possible to get some extra doses, but we have to make sure we are not under the dose. "
The vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc.
and Germany's BioNTech
is still in short supply and will likely be relatively scarce for months. Most Americans can't get their vaccinations until the spring or summer, health experts say.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday evening that the US is also negotiating the purchase of more doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine after missing an opportunity to secure more last summer.