HHS and the U.S. Department of Defense announced this week that they will spend an additional $27.7 million to increase production of low dead-space syringes and needles, which are in short supply due to the pandemic.
LDS syringes and needles allow providers to extract every dose of vaccine vial upon injection.
This can help providers stretch out current vaccine supply by 20%.
Other syringes have more space between the needle and plunger when it’s pushed into skin, wasting up to 17% of the Moderna vaccines and 13% of the Pfizer vaccine, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The syringes have been in short supply at healthcare facilities since early this year.
The federal funding will benefit Retractable Technologies Inc., which over the past year has received over $130 million to increase the country’s production capacity by 75%. The total allocated funding is almost double the company’s 2020 annual revenue.
Retractable first won a $107 million government contract in June 2020. It expires on Jan. 31, 2022.
There are over 10 bills in Congress that aim to prevent future shortages of medical supplies by replenishing the national stockpile and drumming up domestic manufacturing.
Though reports show demand is dwindling, maximizing vaccines could be critical to herd immunity since 60% of Americans are currently in need of their second dose or have yet to be vaccinated at all.
House Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) introduced a bill on Monday to improve domestic production of medical supplies and rebuild domestic reserves through the Strategic National Stockpile.
“Investing and modernizing our preparedness and response to future crises must take priority so that we are not relying on other countries in an emergency,” said Dingell in a statement. Companion legislation was introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet(D-Colo.) last Wednesday.
Senators expressed support for remedying supply chain gaps and increasing domestic manufacturing during last week’s Homeland Security Committee hearing on the matter.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said in his testimony that the country needs to stop relying on foreign sources and push domestic suppliers to increase their manufacturing done in the U.S. Experts at the hearing agreed that without significant increases in domestics reserves, the nation’s hospitals and providers will not be equipped for the next pandemic.