Fewer people to get Pfizer vaccine in Japan due to syringe shortage

Kyodo -- Feb 10
Japan is unlikely to inoculate as many people with Pfizer Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine as planned due to a shortage of special syringes capable of extracting the final dose from vials provided by the drugmaker, health minister Norihisa Tamura said Tuesday.

The country said last month that it had secured doses for 72 million people based on the assumption that each vial could provide six shots. But without low dead space syringes, which minimize the amount of vaccine left in the syringe after use, a vial ends up yielding only five doses -- enough for 60 million people.

"The syringes used in Japan can only draw five doses. We will use all the syringes we have that can draw six doses, but it will, of course, not be enough as more shots are administered," said Tamura. The government is requesting medical equipment manufacturers step up production of the special syringes.

Reuters reported last month that the United States and European Union countries have also been scrambling to secure enough low dead space syringes to squeeze more doses from the Pfizer vaccine, with manufacturers urged to boost their overall production capacity.

- Kyodo