Vial Reality: Inefficiency Means Waste

Black leaders in Louisville, Kentucky wait for COVID-19 vaccines. January 20, 2021.  Image: Jon Cherry/Getty
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Black leaders in Louisville, Kentucky wait for COVID-19 vaccines. January 20, 2021. Image: Jon Cherry/Getty

President Biden has inherited a dwindling supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
 
While hundreds of millions more doses have already been ordered, they won’t be delivered in full until mid-year.
 
The main issue now is improving dire inefficiencies in deploying doses the US already has. Some communities are running out of doses and others are throwing them in the trash, The Washington Post reports.

The administration’s new strategy—some 200 pages of it—lays out all of Biden’s options for getting more vaccines into Americans’ arms, STAT reports.

Controversial Option: The strategy explores “dose sparing” strategies to make supplies go further—the FDA previously “balked” at a Trump administration proposal to shrink the dose given to each American.
 

Another Idea: Deploying the Defense Production Act to use “low dead space needles” to extract more doses from vials, and ramp up supply of lipid nanoparticles needed to make mRNA vaccines.

Doses Discarded

Why are precious COVID-19 vaccine doses being discarded? Reasons include staff who were barred from giving them to anyone below the top priority tier or because doses were thawed and unused.
 

Just how many doses have gone to waste? That’s unknown, because despite CDC requirements, some states aren’t tracking them. And lacking enforcement, providers have little incentive to fess up to vaccine wastage.


This information isn’t only key to tracking waste itself, but flagging potential issues in shipping and cold storage, ProPublica reports.

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