Early data showed Monday that Pfizer’s vaccine candidate COVID-19 could be 90% effective, and the company has submitted its soon-to-be-completed data to the Food and Drug Administration for final approval. US authorities say they are ready to begin distributing the vaccine as soon as it is given the green light. Operation Warp Speed ensures that we have all the supplies we need to support the administration and distribution of this vaccine, “said Dr. David L. Schulman, the pharmaceutical company’s chief executive officer. These include the PPE required for administration, dry ice needed during distribution, and dry water needed for distribution and supply of supplies and equipment needed by Pfizers.
But Pfizer’s early data has put the future of COVID-19 vaccine sales in the spotlight, as the company’s vaccine is a potential hurdle and must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius. Nobody has experience of vaccines at this temperature, “Saha added.
So there will be countries that experience unique circumstances related to temperature requirements. If distributed in rural communities, it would likely be even more complicated to keep the vaccine stable at that temperature, said Dr. Michael Behlim, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. It would be much more difficult if we had to find a way to keep this temperature low without having to travel 20 to 50 kilometers for vaccination, “Behlim said.
In addition to improvised packaging, Pfizer plans to track the temperature of the vaccine along the way. We have a range of packaging and we have locations, but it has to have the same shape as the full vaccine and it’s packed in a very insulated container with dry ice, “he said. We will also track the temperature so that when we receive the boxes we can check that they are holding the temperatures they should be, Dormitzer said. Pfizer’s scientists do not believe that keeping the vaccine stable at this temperature will be an insurmountable challenge, given the company’s nuanced delivery system.
Big pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS say their facilities are fully equipped to store Pfizer’s vaccine. A spokesman for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told ABC News that the vaccine is equipped with fridges and freezers, which means the vast majority of the vaccine can be stored there. This is to ensure that the vaccines that are ultimately actually given to the vaccinated person continue to be good.
However, independent, local and medium-sized pharmacies may be forced to choose between investing in a freezer that could reach the temperatures needed to store the Pfizer vaccine or using dry ice.
Initially, the challenge was to buy a freezer, but now that they know that dry ice can be used as a substitute, most institutions seem inclined to use it and refill it within a 10-day timeframe. Saha said the reluctance to buy the freezer is partly because it is hard to find and partly because you theoretically buy something you want to use.
Dormitzer told ABC News that 1.3 billion vaccines by 2021 is the goal they’re really targeting. We believe we can produce a huge number of these doses, but we have to bring them the vaccine first.
Nursing homes and health care providers will be the first to offer the vaccine, according to U.S. officials. Saha said the CDC has a committee called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that will approve a prioritization path that depends on what the FDA says about the vaccines. The FDA could release vaccine candidates for emergency use by the end of the year, he said.
The vaccine dose is free, and pharmacists and technicians from CVS and Walgreens will come to facilities selected for the program free of charge, according to a news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the US are being given to nursing home residents at a cost of $5,000 to $7,500 per patient per dose. Ultimately, “CVS Health will try to get every nursing home to sign up as a partner within three weeks” he told ABC News.
If an institution decides not to participate, it must find a way to administer the vaccine through a local pharmacy approved for vaccination by a state or local jurisdiction to help administer it. This is a huge undertaking, but it also resembles what CVS is already doing with its co-op program with Walgreens, according to the press release.