Drug, logistics and public-health officials in the US are working to assemble a cold-storage supply chain as experimental vaccines for COVID-19 approach the end of late-stage testing, reported The Wall Street Journal.
According to the news source, some of the candidates now in Phase III trials must be stored at temperatures potentially as cold as minus 80 degrees Celsius, or minus 112 Fahrenheit. Hospitals, pharmacies and doctors' offices are expected to be vaccination sites, but they have few such specialized freezers.
To ensure its coronavirus vaccines remain frozen at minus 70 degrees Celsius, Pfizer created a temperature-controlled container about the size of a suitcase that can keep between 1000 and 5000 doses cold for 10 days before requiring more dry ice.
"Hopefully the vaccines are going to be used as quickly as they're made, and therefore cold-chain storage is only to get it where it's needed, rather than stored for long periods," said James Robinson, a consultant helping the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is financing coronavirus vaccine projects.
However, some other COVID-19 vaccines in clinical testing do not require ultracold temperatures, including Johnson & Johnson's candidate, which is expected to be shipped commercially at standard refrigeration. AstraZeneca expects its vaccine to need refrigeration, a spokesman said.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, Moderna stored its vaccine at minus 70 degrees Celsius in preparation of clinical trials. Since then, it has done further study and now plans to ship the shots at minus 20, the company said.
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