Senator Imee Marcos has called on the government to get ahead of a global syringe shortage, as purchases and donations of Covid-19 vaccines for the country increase by the millions in coming months.
“The purchase of 40 million doses from Pfizer is good news but will there be enough low dead space (LDS) syringes which are now in short supply in the United States itself? Let’s hope our own supply does not stop our vaccination program in its tracks,” Marcos said.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, pointed out that more than three-fourths of syringes produced by the largest manufacturer in the Philippines is exported to North America.
“We need to secure our domestic supply through imports. The expense involved has challenged the DOH (Department of Health) since the beginning of the year,” Marcos added.
Marcos explained that the use of LDS syringes can increase the 40 million Pfizer doses to about 48 million, citing that the special syringes can minimize the accumulation of vaccine in the space between the syringe plunger and the top of the needle, thus are able to extract a sixth dose from a vial marked for five.
Mainly a niche product for specific diseases before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, LDS syringes came into high demand as vaccine production grew to catch up with the rising cases of infection.
Syringe manufacturers are still in the process of ramping up production, following warnings last year that a shortage will stall the race toward herd immunity as the Covid-19 virus mutates, creates more dreaded variants, and causes new waves of infection.
“Ideally, advance orders for low dead space syringes, a sustained momentum in ramping up vaccination and a more aggressive information campaign to minimize vaccine hesitancy will allow us to achieve herd immunity this year,” Marcos said. – (30)