The distribution of the experimental COVID-19 vaccine created by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE is being prepared following the companies' announcement of successful interim data. However, it will not be made available to local pharmacies or the general public soon.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, remarked it would be challenging to disseminate vaccines that use messenger RNA-based technology in developing countries on Wednesday. This is courtesy of their cold storage requirements.
The remark came days after Pfizer Inc. noted its experimental novel coronavirus vaccine is over 90 percent effective based on initial trial results. The company expects to file for United States emergency authorization this November.
If the vaccine is approved for mass use, it will take a massive effort for dissemination, reported NBC Philadelphia.
The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine became relevant this week after the company and its German partner BioNTech SE made an announcement in a press release that their vaccine had 90 percent effectiveness in a trial.
The two companies are still awaiting data on safety, which may arrive later this November. Pfizer and BioNTech are required to get regulators to sign off on the shot prior to shipping vaccines to those considered in dire need by the government, reported The Tribune.
When Pfizer, Inc. and BioNTech SE's COVID-19 vaccine issues from manufacturing lines, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. would be waiting to disseminate it through a complex and expensive system of refrigerated vehicles, deep-freeze airport warehouses, and vaccination points across China.
The shots should be defrosted from -70 degrees celsius and injected within five days following their arrival at inoculation centers. If not, they would go bad.
Healthcare workers and people residing in nursing homes would likely top the list of those in dire need of vaccines.
However, the vaccine's complex and extra cold storage requirements are a hurdle for even the most sophisticated hospitals in the U.S. It can affect the time and location it is available in rural areas or developing countries where resources are scarce.
Pfizer is awaiting the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) emergency approval. Its dissemination will be limited initially.
Dry-ice producers have been cautioning for months that demand for cold storage of eventual vaccine samples would surpass supply.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated on Tuesday that it aims to have a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year and that Pfizer's experimental vaccine is a "very promising" candidate.
The vaccine comes with unique challenges. It needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below since it is based on a novel technology that uses synthetic mRNA to activate the immune system against the coronavirus.
According to Fauci, "It does have cold-chain challenges as it were. In a country like the U.K. and the United States, we can address them, and it still would be challenging. But, probably much more challenging in countries in the developing world," reported NDTV.