A healthcare worker holds a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site operated by SOMOS Community Care during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in New York, January 29, 2021. Mike Segar | Reuter

Moderna said to seek FDA clearance to increase doses per vial to alleviate manufacturing bottleneck

The change would allow Moderna to put 15 doses in the same sized vials, now cleared to hold 10

Meg Tirrell

Series: Lessons learned from vaccines manufacturing


  • Moderna is said to have asked the FDA to allow it to put additional doses in its vaccine vials.
  • The move is aimed to alleviate a bottleneck in Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing.
  • The change would add up to five doses to the 10-dose vials.

Moderna has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for permission to fill its Covid-19 vaccine vials with up to five additional doses to ease a bottleneck in manufacturing, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The change would allow Moderna to put 15 doses in the same sized vials, now cleared to hold 10, alleviating pressure on the part of the manufacturing process known as fill/finish, said the person, who declined to be named because the application isn’t yet public.

The availability of Covid-19 vaccines has been a source of frustration since their clearance in the U.S. in mid-December. While the pace of administration has picked up to more than a million a day on average, constrained supply has hindered states’ ability to operate mass vaccination sites. As of Friday, the U.S. had distributed 49.2 million doses, and 27.9 million had been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are having trouble producing these mRNA vaccines,” said Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center and a physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “We’re up to about 1.2 million doses a day when we need to be at 3 million doses a day.”

The move from Moderna comes after Pfizer sought and obtained a change from the FDA in its Emergency Use Authorization to specify its Covid-19 vaccine vials contain six doses, rather than five, after pharmacists observed a bonus dose could be extracted with the right syringes. Pfizer then said it would deliver fewer vials to the U.S., but the same number of doses specified in its contracts.

Moderna’s vials were also found to contain a bonus dose, but it’s seeking a regulatory change to add more volume to the vials.

The bottleneck isn’t the vials themselves, according to the person familiar; it’s the manufacturing capacity to fill the vials. The fill/finish process in manufacturing must be done under aseptic conditions to assure no contamination, and capacity is at a premium.

Companies have begun to strike manufacturing partnerships focused on this step in the process to increase output; Friday, Novartis said it signed an initial agreement to fill vials for BioNTech, Pfizer’s partner in Europe on the Covid-19 vaccine.

“We expect this to be the first of a number of such agreements,” said Steffen Lang, head of Novartis Technical Operations.

Edited for Brazil by

Joaquim Cardoso do Rosário
Founder of the “Health for All Foundation




Senior Advisor for Health Care Strategy to BCG — Boston Consulting Group

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Why we missed the warning signs that B117 had arrived into the UK

These breakthroughs will make 2021 better than 2020 (Gates ???)

WATS-3D Increases Dysplasia Detection in Barrett Esophagus

America’s Nightmare Covid-19 Scenario is Coming True — All Over Again

COVID-19 Cases Are Dropping Fast. Why?

Low-framerate animation of a coronavirus molecule rolling down a red line on a graph.

During the second half year of 2019, unexpected pandemic which was caused by a coronavirus attacked…

Endemic Game — the Fall of the Global Community?

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Joaquim Cardoso @ BCG

Joaquim Cardoso @ BCG

Senior Advisor for Health Care Strategy to BCG — Boston Consulting Group

More from Medium

Hole in your ship 🚢

3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Performing Music.

Gameplay Journal 7