Pfizer's COVID vaccine needs -70 C; sparks concerns of delay in roll out

Pfizer's COVID vaccine, which is believed to have 90% success rate, must be stored at minus 70 C in special suitcase-like storage boxes, sparking concerns that the special equipment needed could delay the roll out.

According to a report in the Times, the vaccine must be stored in dry ice until the day it is used in order to protect the genetic material inside. This could make it difficult for clinics and care homes to store the vaccine.Also, according to the leaked Pfizer documents, the suitcase containing the doses can only be opened for a minute at time and not more than twice a day, making it difficult to supply the doses to patients.

With tropical heat, remote island communities and a dearth of ultra-cold freezers, many Asian countries aren't betting on Pfizer's experimental vaccine to mitigate their suffering anytime soon.The world cheered on Monday when Pfizer announced its shot. Yet health experts caution that the vaccine, should it be approved, is no silver bullet - not the least because the genetic material it's made from needs to be stored at temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below.

Such requirements pose a particularly daunting challenge for countries in Asia, as well as in places like Africa and Latin America, where intense heat is often compounded by poor infrastructure that will make it difficult to keep the "cold chain" intact during deliveries to rural areas and islands, reports Reuters.

That is a problem for everyone in the world, given the World Health Organization estimate that about 70% of people must be inoculated to end the pandemic, and Asia alone is home to more than 4.6 billion - or three-fifths of the global population.

Pfizer told Reuters that it had developed detailed logistical plans and tools to support vaccine transport, storage and continuous temperature monitoring. "We have also developed packaging and storage innovations to be fit for locations where we believe vaccinations will take place," it said.


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