But people who do not have access to these facilities, such as those who live in rural areas, nursing homes and developing countries, may have to wait for other vaccines in development.The Pfizer vaccine must be kept at 70 degrees below zero, and it cannot be placed at a higher temperature more than four times during its journey from the place of manufacture to the individuals who will receive it.
The Pfizer vaccine, which has not yet been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration but is said to be 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 disease, uses a genetic material called mRNA. And if it is not kept in extremely cold temperatures, this substance can decompose, making the vaccine unusable.
If the Pfizer vaccine is kept at minus 70 degrees, it can last for up to six months. But many hospitals, community medical offices and pharmacies do not have refrigerators, the lowest price is $ 10,000, and they are expensive to operate due to their high energy use. It is not possible to modify the current refrigerants to reach the temperatures required to preserve the vaccine, says Paula Cannon, a professor of microbiology at the University of Southern California, adding: “It would be like moving from a Fiat to a Tundra truck.”
Dr. William Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says there may also be a shortage of the type of pharmaceutical glass needed to make vials that can withstand cold temperatures.
And the New York-based Corning Glass Company won a government grant of $ 204 million last June so it can increase production of its glass, made without the chemical element boron.
Distribution of the vaccine will also be difficult, as it must remain frozen during shipment. But Pfizer has built a storage container that, with the help of dry ice, can keep doses cold for up to 10 days during transit, without any additional freezing equipment.
Regularly replenishing containers with dry ice can ensure doses are kept for another 15 days, but that also depends on how often the containers are opened and how long they have been opened.