Biotech companies are racing to push their candidates for a coronavirus vaccine through clinical trial stages. And, if successful, these companies have promised large scale supply rollouts. But, according to Fierce Pharma, two frontrunners for a vaccine may be have a difficult time generating the many millions of doses promised due to a need for extreme cold storage.
This is not the freezer or refrigerator storage commonly provided by Washington Cold Storage and others in the cold chain industry. This is below-zero Fahrenheit territory for drugs that will last one to two days tops under normal refrigerated conditions. This has experts expressing concern to the Centers for Disease Control that such requirements are “severely limiting” to the rollout of such a vaccine, Fierce Pharma reported.
One of the vaccine candidates, a drug called BNT162b2 being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, reportedly requires storage at a maintained temperature of -94° Fahrenheit, and may last as little as 24 hours at refrigerated temperatures (35.6° to 46.4°). With such constraints, there are concerns that the vaccine could be difficult to ship and possibly could only be made available at hospitals with specialized equipment — and then only at “intensive one-day vaccination events.”
Pfizer is exploring special dry ice shipping options, the report said.
Another candidate, Moderna’s mRNA-1273, requires storage at a maximum temperature of -4° Fahrenheit, which falls within the range of more common freezer storage. But with several other companies developing drugs that remain stable in refrigerated conditions, the below-zero requirement may prove to be, at minimum, a competitive disadvantage.
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