Belgium gains 20% more vaccines by using ‘bonus dose’
Friday, 08 January 2021
Belgian health workers have managed to increase the number of vaccines available in the country thanks to the use of highly efficient syringes to consistently draw out a “bonus dose” from the glass vials that contain Pfizer’s vaccine.
While official instructions say one vial of Pfizer vaccine contains five doses, in practice Belgian health workers are able to use syringes to extract the additional margin provided in the vial, which amounts to 20% more vaccine doses.
Out of the 350,000 doses delivered to Belgium this month, that means around 70,000 more doses, Het Nieuwsblad and the Gazet van Antwerpen said Friday. This move was approved by the Federal Medicines Agency (FAMHP), Bruzz reports.
This information was forwarded on to institutions on Friday morning. “This means that in certain residential care centers today they will have more vaccines than foreseen, so that some of the staff may already be vaccinated. and we don’t want to waste vaccines,” a representative from Iriscare told Bruzz
The correct tools
It is thanks to the specific tools available to Belgian healthcare providers at the moment that the additional dose can be consistently taken, according to Thomas De Rijdt, head of the pharmacy department of UZ Leuven.
“Our authorities bought very good syringes. Due to their shape, they leave practically nothing in the vial,” said De Rijdt.
“We are using them now, but what happens if we run out of them? I don’t think the whole vaccination campaign will benefit from this material. The whole world wants them,” concludes the head of the pharmacy department.
According to vaccinologist Pierre Van Damme, member of the vaccinations task force, these extra doses could be used to help push Belgium’s vaccinations to a new level.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said it will only change the vaccine instructions if it is possible to systematically extract six doses, a spokesman says. Due to the reliance on certain syringe and technique, this is not the case everywhere.