New tool to speed up vial filling: Chula

New tool to speed up vial filling: Chula

The Faculty of Engineering at Chulalongkorn University, the Medical Sciences Department and the private sector are developing a new automation tool to speed up the vaccine-filling process to keep up with high demand for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and officials yesterday attended a demonstration of a vaccine-filling machine to help health personnel sort out and fill vaccine vials.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is produced as a multi-dose vial, where one vial will be used for 10 doses at 0.5ml per dose. For a 6.5ml bottle, about 11-12 doses per bottle can be drawn by health personnel using low-dead-space syringes, specifically designed to minimise any wasting of the doses. As global demand for the AstraZeneca vaccine keeps rising, the dose shortage issue led to the development of an automating machine that can sort out and fill vaccine doses with utmost precision.

In regards to the procedure for use, Mr Anutin said officials would place 12 syringes on the platform and then put a vaccine bottle on a pre-determined spot.

The machine would automatically drain the vaccine from the bottle using a vacuum suction nozzle to fill all syringes with equal amounts. As the machine works on a belt drive, it can accelerate its capacity to 20% and takes about four minutes to finish.

The overall procedure is also safe from being contaminated as needles and syringes are regularly changed, Mr Anutin said.

"The machine is able to drain the vaccine from the bottle more precisely and quickly, which eases the workload of health personnel. This innovation can benefit large vaccination sites, as well as reduce the use of low-dead-space syringes," said Mr Anutin.

Meanwhile, the British embassy in Bangkok posted on the "UK in Thailand" Facebook page saying that 415,000 doses of the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the United Kingdom arrived in Thailand at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 9pm on Tuesday.

Disease Control Department deputy director-general Dr Sophon Iamsirithaworn and European Affairs Department director-general Chulamanee Chartsuwan represented the Thai government in receiving the batch.

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