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Moderna Prepares To Increase Doses In Each COVID-19 Vaccine Vial To Counter Production Woes

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Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) said that following positive feedback from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is pursuing a plan to increase the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses to up to 15 in each vial from the present 10 doses.

What Happened: The plan was disclosed as part of the biotechnology company’s written testimony ahead of a House hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

One vial of Moderna’s two-shot vaccine is currently enough to inoculate five people. The plan to increase the number of doses in each vial will enable Moderna to produce and deliver the vaccine more quickly and also help ease a manufacturing bottleneck.

Moderna said in mid-February that while short-term delays in the final stages of production at the company’s fill and finish contractor Catalent delayed the release of some doses, it expects to resolve these delays in the near term and not impact its monthly delivery targets.

Why it Matters: The U.S. is facing a vaccine crunch as only 72 million doses were shipped by Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Moderna despite the promise to deliver 200 million doses by the end of March, Reuters reported in February. Several states have complained about not having enough doses to keep up with the pace of demand.

In addition, labeling confusion had resulted in hospital pharmacists discarding one in every six doses of the vaccine made jointly by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX), StatNews reported earlier. But the FDA later advised that every dose obtainable may be fully used, given the public health emergency.

President Joe Biden reportedly announced in mid-February that his administration has secured deals with Pfizer and Moderna for a total of 600 million COVID-19 vaccines. The 600 million doses of the two-shot vaccines would be enough to inoculate 300 million people.

Pfizer in a written testimony ahead of the hearing also said it expected to ramp up the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks, shipping about 13 million doses a week by mid-March.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) said its supply could be enough to inoculate 20 million people by the end of next month.

Price Action: Moderna shares closed 8.8% lower at $159.37 on Monday, but rose 0.6 percent in the after-hours session.

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