While the world awaits news on the announcement of a Covid-19 vaccine, one equally important factor has been slightly overlooked. Syringes.
The possibility of shortage in the supply of medical equipment is looming over the horizon. The demand continually increases as Covid-19 cases continue to rise not just in the United States but also in other parts of the world.
There is a very high chance that a vaccine will be granted approval by health authorities later this year. And since syringes are the primary medium for parenterally-administered vaccines and one syringe is only meant for a single dose on one person, an incredibly large demand is faced by manufacturers right now. There isn’t much time left as well if vaccines are intended to begin distribution before the year ends. Thus, manufacturing firms are expected to double their efforts and produce a lot more in a short amount of time.
High demand is evident in the United States alone. Supply shortage may not be a problem in the first batch of vaccines yet, but will probably become one as continuous mass vaccination programs are conducted.
Spokesperson of Becton, Dickinson & Co., Troy Kirkpatrick, urged governments who plan to have vaccination programs against Covid-19 should not wait for a vaccine to be approved before procuring syringes and other medical supplies. BD is a large American manufacturer of medical equipment and devices.
BD has sealed deals with the US, UK, and Canada to produce more than 450 million syringe units.
Since May, warnings of possible shortages have been made known to the public. The Trump administration stated that about 850 million syringes and needles are needed to distribute the vaccine to the people. Rick Bright, former director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) filed a complaint in the US Office of Special Counsel Complaint and Disclosure Form, stating that he was “involuntarily removed” from his previous position in BARDA to NIH, while also disclosing that the US stock only had 15 million syringes.
Based on a comprehensive plan by the Center for American Progress, approximately 462 million doses of a vaccine needs to be distributed to achieve herd immunity in America alone, and along with that, an equal number of syringes is required to administer.
Pfizer, which is a manufacturer of a potential Covid-19 vaccine, is outsourcing their syringe supplies due to shortages. With a promising candidate in its final phase of clinical trials, the company is attempting to compensate the syringe supplies with the target volume production of the vaccine.
The US government is also making deals with BD, which supplies 58% of the syringes in America, and other medical device manufacturers.