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Canada scrambling for smaller syringes ahead of expected Pfizer vaccine label change

Last Updated Jan 27, 2021 at 10:36 am PST

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Summary

Canada scrambling to source smaller syringes for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine that can extract extra dose from each vial

Pfizer has asked Health Canada to agree to change label to say each vial of vaccine contains six doses instead of five

Sixth dose was surprise find by medical professionals who found using special syringes could extract extra dose

OTTAWA — Canada’s procurement department is scrambling to source smaller syringes for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, anticipating that Health Canada will agree to change the label to say each vial of the precious substance contains six doses instead of five.

Pfizer formally requested the change Jan. 22, and Health Canada’s regulatory team that approved the vaccine for use Dec. 9 is now considering the new material.

If the label is amended, Pfizer will ship fewer vials to Canada overall because Canada’s contract with the vaccine-maker is based on 40 million doses, not vials.

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That sixth dose was a surprise find by medical professionals who found using special syringes could extract the extra dose.

But those syringes are not common and have become the latest COVID-19 hot commodity after both Europe and the United States agreed to the label change earlier this month.

A spokeswoman for Procurement Minister Anita Anand says more than 87 million of the smaller syringes have been ordered but can’t say how many have been delivered or when the rest will arrive.