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The vials will go from storing 10 doses to as many as 15, Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told CNN on Wednesday.
‘Those larger vials will be in the hands of states by the third week of May,’ she said.
However, it is unclear which states will be receiving the larger vials first and how many will be shipped.
Moderna Inc is manufacturing a larger vial of its COVID-19 vaccine that can hold 15 doses instead of the standard 10 doses. Pictured: The standard vial containing 10 vaccine doses
Moderna is switching to larger vials to ‘increase the number of doses that it gets out there by increasing the size of the vial,’ Freeman told CNN.
‘That was the best way they determined that they could increase doses.’
The Cambridge-based pharmaceutical company said on April 1 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had authorized two new vials.
The first allowed 11 doses to be extracted from the original 10 and the second was a large vial that could hold up to 15 doses each.
Additionally, the FDA is now allowing the vaccine vials to be stored at room temperature fo 24 hours after being removed from the freezer, up from the original 12-hour maximum.
‘We are committed to constantly learning and improving to facilitate easier administration of our COVID-19 vaccine for medical staff and accelerate immunization programs,’ Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement at the time.
Freemna told CNN that the firm is concerned that the larger vials will be harder to use to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations such as homebound seniors.
This could lead to heath officials not using all 15 doses and being forced to throw some away.
‘That doesn’t really help state and local health departments who see the larger dose vials as not being as conducive or flexible for some of the work they have to do with populations that are remaining to be served,’ she said.
Moderna told CNN that it is not clear how many vials will be immediately available or to where they will ship.
Moderna’s vaccine was developed in partnership with the National Institutes of Health.
It uses part of the pathogen’s genetic code called messenger RNA, or mRNA, to get the body to recognize the coronavirus and attack it if a person becomes infected.
The candidate works by tricking the body into producing some of the viral proteins, which the immune system then recognizes and builds a defensive response against.
Updated clinical trial data published earlier this month found that vaccine is 90 percent effective at protecting against COVID-19 six months after the second dose.
This is a downgrade from estimates in its earlier clinical trials, which suggested it could prevent 94.5 percent of infections, but is proof of long-lasting protection.