Inside Pfizer’s Fast, Fraught, and Lucrative Vaccine Distribution

This entire article is a great read, but I came across something below I had not heard before.

From Bloomberg:

Pfizer executives found a partial fix to their supply problem in the vaccine vials themselves. They just needed authorization to change the labels to say the vials contained six doses instead of five. It’s standard practice in the pharmaceutical industry to overfill vials slightly to avoid running the risk of undershooting and violating FDA labeling laws. Pfizer was overfilling each vial by just enough for an extra dose if vaccinators used what are called low dead-volume syringes.

But not all vaccination sites had the syringes. Moreover, the company’s application to the FDA and other regulators specified five-dose vials. Pfizer needed to generate data showing the extra shot could be reliably extracted.

The company did that and then began pressing FDA officials to change the authorization to recognize the sixth dose. OWS officials were against the change, anticipating nightmare logistical implications right when they were starting the biggest mass vaccination campaign in U.S. history, the former senior administration officials say. Pfizer’s vaccine needed to be kept at subarctic temperatures—it was already difficult enough to distribute without last-minute rejiggering. (Recently the FDA announced that it can be kept at normal freezer temperatures for up to two weeks.)

The company’s lobbying efforts succeeded. On Jan. 6 the FDA revised its fact sheet, allowing the sixth dose and effectively boosting Pfizer’s production by 20%. Regulators in Europe, the U.K., and elsewhere followed suit. The U.S. and the U.K. had managed to source the syringes, but other countries were left scrambling. Sweden and Japan complained they didn’t have enough special syringes to extract the sixth dose and warned it would likely mean millions of doses would be thrown away.


Looked at a different way, doses weren’t being ‘thrown away’ but instead the vials didn’t quite contain that sixth dose.

Bourla defended the policy change by saying the company had validated 36 syringe-needle combinations that could get the extra dose out. “It would be criminal if we can use six doses, and we are throwing away one vaccine that can save lives right now,” he told Bloomberg in late January.

The rationale for calling it a sixth dose isn’t bad, either! Two perspectives on the same situation, with the result being someone can say “we’re throwing away vaccine doses” and be both technically correct while also being rather wrong.

I’m the Package You Impulse-Ordered Three Days Ago and No, I’m Not Going to Make You Feel Any Better

From McSweeney’s:

It’s hard being a package. Sometimes we’re out in the cold for a really long time. Sometimes someone puts a bomb in us. Sometimes someone thinks there’s a bomb in us so 90 people in green suits show up and talk to each other on the phone for 11 hours only to discover we’re just a litter of kittens in a duffel bag.


Back then, packages meant something. Remember that Tuesday your new leggings arrived? Remember how you wore them to the office the next day and Michelle said something backhanded about wearing leggings to work and you spit in her coffee mug when she wasn’t looking and Doug saw you do it and thought it was edgy and cool so he ironically asked you out to coffee and now he’s been your ex-boyfriend for almost 8 years? All traces back to me.

How the New York Times A/B tests their headlines

From TJCX:

The NYT might be more restrained than BuzzFeed, but we should keep in mind that it’s not a neutral observer. As the examples above show, A/B tested headlines paint a picture that’s a lot more dramatic than the reality. Frequent NYT readers will end up thinking the world is scarier and more shocking than it really is.

Certainly the business model of a place like Fox News, or CNN and BuzzFeed, would follow a model where the “news” is defined as a flashy, emotional headline that drives engagement- primarily by making people mad. But to see it happen at the New York Times? Bah.

I guess it’s CSPAN or bust.

Money Stuff – Good Aptonym

From March 10:

“The reshuffling of the S&P 500 last month brought lighting supplier Monolithic Power Systems Inc., which has six men and no women on its board, into the Index for the first time. The last all-male board — Copart Inc. — added a woman in July 2019. The gender disparity comes even as the broader index topped 29% women on boards for the first time last month. …”

“You cannot be a company with a board of all men on the S&P 500 for long,” said Davia Temin, founder of New York City crisis consultancy Temin and Co. “It’s really pretty difficult in this day and age to go against the march of history.”

Yeah, I don’t know, if anyone is going to go against the march of history it might be Monolithic Power Systems? “What kind of monolithic power systems do you offer?” “Well, we have this nice system that will power your electric lights; also the patriarchy, that’s a real monolithic power system.”

Find Matt Levine at Bloomberg.