PRAGUE / ROME (Reuters) – The European Union was asked on Tuesday to take an extra dose of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech from each vial, a use that is allowed elsewhere to allow scarce supplies to continue. stretch.
Experts believe that it is possible to obtain six doses from each vial, more than the five approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The Czech Prime Minister, Andrej Babis, said he had raised the issue with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with the aim of getting the EMA clearance as soon as possible.
The vaccine, manufactured by Pfizer of the United States and the German biotech company BioNTech, is so far the only one to have received EU approval and is already being administered.
But the stock is tight and rising coronavirus infections are plaguing hospitals to the extreme.
According to BioNTech, each vial will be guaranteed to deliver five doses, but that it is possible to pick up a sixth with the right needle and syringe.
“We are in talks with regulators as to whether and how the sixth dose, as well as the required needles or syringes for such a low-dead-volume system can be made available,” a BioNTech spokesman said.
Italian regulators have already approved the inclusion of six doses, which dominate the EMA guidelines for the EU as a whole.
Similar approvals have been issued by regulators in the United States, Britain, Switzerland and Israel – all of whom have started their vaccination campaigns earlier.
Soren Brostrom, head of the Danish health authority, said it was even possible to pull a seventh dose out of some Pfizer vials, and that it was possible to vaccinate more than the 250,000 people who died in the first two months of Denmark’s campaign.
The EU has signed deals to buy a total of 2 billion vaccine doses, which will be distributed to member states in proportion to their population. The EMA did not respond to a request for comment.
Additional reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Douglas Busvine and Josephine Mason; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Edited by Kevin Liffey