Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine could present cold-chain concerns

Its unique storage requirements may pose challenges for inoculation programs


In news reported by Reuters on Tuesday, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus indicated that it hopes to have a Covid-19 vaccine by end of 2020 and that Pfizer’s experimental candidate is “a very promising one.”

However, vaccines such as Pfizer’s that use synthetic mRNA to activate the immune system against the virus have to be stored at -70 ºC (-94 ºF) or below, which could be more complicated in places with warmer climates, such as Africa and Asia, where the proper equipment to handle these temperatures may not be up to par, the report notes.

From a logistical standpoint, this also raises the question of how the product will be safely transported, as recent surveys indicate that the air cargo industry feels unprepared for such a challenge. However, that does not necessarily signify that a cold chain cannot still formulate a successful plan to meet the forthcoming demands.

Pfizer, which will be coordinating its own vaccine distribution, made headlines earlier this week after revealing that its vaccine, jointly developed with BioNTech SE, was over 90% effective, according to the first set of interim data from a large-scale clinical trial.