Pfizer announced this Wednesday that it has raised the effectiveness of its vaccine to 95%, but keeping the doses in conservation conditions is an unresolved issue that developer companies have yet to resolve, since the dose needs to be manipulated between 70 and 80 degrees Celsius below zero, which is a far-reaching logistical challenge if mass vaccination is to be pursued.
The anti-Covid-19 dose developed by Pfizer-BioNTech should be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the coldest temperature of any other vaccine in development. Countries that acquire this type of immunization must have or build, from scratch, deep-freezing production, storage and transportation networks. Rich nations that have reserved doses include Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom, which require special facilities with an ultrafreezer for the preservation of the vaccine.
Until now the companies have indicated that along with the development of the vaccine, they have designed “thermal dispensers” for its transport. The boxes are equipped with GPS temperature sensors that will let Pfizer know where the boxes are located and how cold they are.
The New York Times reported that Pfizer will send the vaccine in special dispensers containing 1,000 to 5,000 doses. They will be filled with dry ice. It further details that the doses can be stored in conventional freezers for up to five days once they are removed from the ultra-cold freezers. They can stay in these special refrigerators for up to 15 days, as long as the dry ice is replenished and the boxes are not opened more than twice a day.
The US newspaper notes that Pfizer and Moderna developed vaccines that use a new technology that has never before been approved for human use, by using a synthetic version of the genetic material of the coronavirus, called mRNA, to program a person’s cells to produce many copies. from a fragment of the virus, makes the vaccine solution more unstable and breaks down easily. For the local environment, if the vaccine is licensed, attention will immediately turn to how it will be distributed.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned that no country in the world is prepared to store Pfizer’s vaccine.
Jarbas Barbosa, deputy director of PAHO, explained at a press conference last week that “the problem is going to be found in central warehouses and in transportation; and there must be an investment, but this is a challenge for everyone since, for the first time, we are going to have vaccines with these characteristics available ”, referring to the novel technology of using genetic material from the virus.
For her part, María Cristina Rosas, doctor in International Relations and Latin American Studies from the Autonomous University of Mexico (Unam), commented to the information portal Sputniknews, that the refrigeration standard of Pfizer’s vaccine is out of the reach of Africa, Latin America and developing countries.
“There is a problem with Pfizer’s because it is designed exclusively for high-income countries. It is very expensive, but also the refrigeration system it needs is not the usual one (…) It is not the refrigeration standard for other vaccines and of course this leaves out Africa, Latin America and developing countries in general ”, he said.
Raúl Ortiz de Lejarazu, professor of Microbiology, virologist and scientific advisor of the National Influenza Center of Valladolid, pointed out to the Libertad Digital newspaper that countries that want to start immunizing their population with this vaccine will have to organize logistics “very important and expensive ”.
“It is estimated that to provide a single dose to 7.8 million people, 8,000 Boeing 747 aircraft could be needed to carry the vials at that temperature. And once in the country, it would have to assume transport security and not break the cold chain ”.
Therefore, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, due to its cost to manufacture and refrigeration handling, could be designed exclusively for high-income countries. / AVN.