Japan May Reduce Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Doses Per Vial from 6 to 5

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said it has lowered the number of doses it expects to get from each vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, from six to five.

U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. is currently awaiting Japanese government approval of the vaccine.

The reduction of the doses will be necessary because it is not possible to extract six doses from the bottles that contain the vaccine using the syringes the government has secured for the vaccinations, only five doses can be extracted.

Although the government initially estimated that 72 million people would receive the vaccine, the number may have to be reduced by nearly 20%.

The ministry will soon revise the vaccination guidance it had given to local governments, to let them know that five doses should be given per vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The government has made an agreement with Pfizer to receive 144 million doses of the vaccine within this year, which would be enough to vaccinate 72 million people.

According to the government, the company notified the ministry that a special syringe will be necessary to draw six doses of the vaccine per bottle.

The ministry then checked the syringes it had contracted, numbering more than 200 million, and it became apparent in late January that the syringes are not of the special type.

The ministry said it has an agreement with Pfizer for the number of doses. Now that the number of doses per vial has been changed, the necessary number of vials will increase, which may affect the timing of the vaccine being provided to Japan.