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Low Dead Space Needles Assist Mass Vaccination

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 16 Dec 2020
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Image: Low dead space needles can conserve vaccine use (Photo courtesy of TSK Laboratory)
Image: Low dead space needles can conserve vaccine use (Photo courtesy of TSK Laboratory)
A specially developed needle can potentially save a significant amount of a vial’s contents, which could help vaccinate millions more against COVID-19.

The TSK Laboratory (Vancouver, Canada) low dead space needle reduces average dead space to 14 microliters, compared to a conventional needle, which has an average dead space of about 45 microliters. A conservative estimate shows that using the dead space needle could lead to a savings of 20 microliters per dose, while an optimistic one suggests 40 microliters can be saved. This represents a 4-8 percent saving, on the assumption that a typical vaccine dose is 0.5 milliliters. And by keeping the dead space as low as possible, the full indicated vaccine dose can be given with each injection.

The use of the dead space needle means less vaccine wasted, costs reduced, and the right dose of the vaccine injected. For example, the European Union (EU) purchased 200 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer (New York, NY, USA) and others to vaccinate 100 million citizens. This means that an additional four to eight million people in Europe could be vaccinated, compared to if a standard needle is used. The same benefit can be gained from the hundreds of around 700 vaccine candidates in development targeting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“There is currently much talk about the development of a vaccine against COVID-19, but there is very little being said about how the vaccine will be injected when it becomes available. This is especially critical when it relates to mass vaccination programs,” said Doris de Beer, managing director of TSK Laboratory Europe. “The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented in modern history and it affects everyone. We the people, governments and companies should work together in fighting this crisis.”

Vaccines, as most other injectable drugs, need to be packaged in sterile borosilicate glass vials that are impermeable to corrupting gases like oxygen, which even high-grade plastics cannot impede for more than a few minutes. In 2019, the global pharmaceutical industry purchased some 12 billion vials; COVID-19 vaccines, which most likely will have to be administered in two separate injections, will require many billions of additional vials.

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