Photo: Comparison between regular syringe (top) and the low dead space syringe (bottom). Credit: Shina Corporation.
To vaccinate for COVID-19, it is not enough to procure vaccines; you need syringes as well. Particularly valuable are “low dead space” (LDS) syringes, a specialized syringe that maximizes the dosage of vaccine by minimizing the empty space inside the syringe. One vial of Pfizer vaccine is thought to contain five doses; however, with an LDS syringe, one can extract six or even seven doses out of the same bottle. Lack of LDS syringes could mean a waste of millions of doses of vaccine, as is currently the case in Japan: it is losing 12m doses because it does not have enough LDS syringes.
Three medium-sized South Korean companies, Shina Corporation 신아양행, Doowon Meditec 두원메디텍, and Poonglim Pharmatech 풍림파마텍, are major producers of LDS syringes. Shina and Doowon will supply the South Korean government with 40m syringes; Poonglim will supply Japan with 80m syringes. While Shina and Doowon were pre-existing producers, Poonglim began manufacturing LDS syringes only one month ago. Poonglim received technical assistance from Samsung Electronics 삼성전자, which provided advice on product molding.