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Reports: Extra coronavirus vaccine doses found in Pfizer vials

The additional doses of vaccine could reportedly increase the currently small U.S. supply by 40%.

Pharmacists have discovered that many of the vials which are supposed to hold five doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine have extra doses, multiple outlets are reporting.

Politico reports it could expand the nation's currently small supply by up to 40%. The New York Times reports some vials hold as many as seven doses.

Pharmacists had thrown away some of the excess vaccine under rules previously set by the Food and Drug Administration, Politico reported. New York's Northwell Hospital reportedly tossed out 15-to-20 doses while awaiting guidance, the Times said.

The FDA said Wednesday that excess doses may now be administered, according to reports.

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Pfizer, however, told USA TODAY it could not provide a recommendation on the use of the remaining vaccine in each vial.

"Vaccinators need to consult their institution’s policies for the use of multidose vials," the company reportedly said in a statement.

Pfizer said any amount left in the vial that does not consist of the 0.3 milliliters needed for a full dose should be discarded, according to USA TODAY, and that the remaining amount "must never" be combined with vaccine from another vial.

The vaccine developed by Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech received emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA last Friday and the first doses were administered this week. Pfizer reportedly says it has enough vaccine to inoculate 12.5 million people by the end of 2020. Health care workers and long-term care residents are expected to get the majority of the first vaccines.

If the 40% number from Politico is accurate, that would mean another 5 million people could get the vaccine before year's end.

An FDA advisory panel is expected to meet Thursday to discuss Moderna's coronavirus vaccine. If it goes the same as the process for Pfizer did, that vaccine could get the EUA by Friday and be rolled out next week.

Credit: AP
The state prepares to administer the first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in downstate Peoria, Ill., Tuesday morning, Dec. 15, 2020. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)