Vials of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine were initially believed to contain only five doses. GPs have noticed it is possible to make six doses out of one vial of the lifesaving jab, but were previously advised to throw excess away. On Thursday, NHS England clinicians were told they can now use the extra sixth dose “at their discretion” in a webinar.
The Telegraph reported the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is now looking into the possibility of ensuring six vaccine out of one vial of the Pfizer jab.
GPs in the seminar told the outlet the decision was “only sensible” after Nikki Kanani, Medical Director of Primary Care for NHS England and NHS Improvement, confirmed a sixth dose was possible in the webinar.
It came after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued similar guidance to American clinicians.
The FDA said the sixth dose from a Pfizer vial can be used “given the public health emergency”.
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The small vials contain 2ml of vaccine when the active ingredient is mixed with the saline solution used to kickstart the medicine, but doses of the jab are 0.3ml.
But American clinicians have also been told not to mix vials to maximise dosage.
British pharmacists also flagged fears over the potential sixth dose, citing concerns using it now will lead to problems if there are less doses in future batches of the Pfizer vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine requires patients to receive two doses of the jab, with the second coming 21 days after the first, to ensure immunity is developed.
It comes as more than 137,000 people have received the coronavirus vaccine as of Tuesday.
The Government reported that at least 137,897 had received their first dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech jab, with 108,000 people being vaccinated in England.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Thanks to the hard work of the NHS across the UK, over 137,000 people have already received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
“This is just the start and we will steadily expand our vaccination programme – ultimately helping everyone get back to normal life.”
Yesterday saw the UK record a further 35,383 cases and 532 deaths.
In total, the UK has reported 66,052 deaths from the virus and 1,948,660 cases.
More regions were thrown into Tier Three restrictions yesterday, with Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire, parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire all being put into the toughest level of measures.
Bristol and North Somerset will move to Tier Two, and Herefordshire will move into Tier One.