According to the CEO of Pfizer, the company that recently announced that its vaccine proved over 90% effective at protecting humans from COVID-19, once the vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration it will be shipped in the United States to most places overnight.
Speaking at The New York Times DealBook Online Summit on Tuesday, CEO Albert Bourla spoke of the vaccine, which must be stored in vials between -94F and -112F. He started by explaining about the boxes in which the vaccine will be shipped: “Those boxes are isothermic boxes that have a GPS and also a tempo meter so we know at any point where the box is and what is the temperature so if something goes wrong, which we don’t anticipate, we will not use the vaccine. Every box is a small box like that and can take 1,000 to 5,000 doses. And when we ship it, we don’t need to use refrigeration. So we can ship it in cars, trucks, planes, boats, whatever. In the US, we will ship to most of the places overnight.”
“So once we receive an address from the government, the next day the product will be there,” he continued. “And once people receive it they can keep it for weeks in the box or they can keep it for months in their freezers or they can put it in refrigeration and keep it for a week, approximately. I think that the demand will be so big, it’s going to be injected in hours rather than days or weeks. So we feel very confident about it.”
Bourla spoke of his hope that the mRNA technology utilized in the creation of the vaccine could be used to combat other diseases:
This is the first confirmation, and I think it’s a glorious confirmation, of the power of technology. And I believe that the technology has a lot to offer, in the vaccines in other viral infections but also, I believe, in other medical applications. Against cancer, for example. I’m very optimistic that pretty soon we will start seeing a lot of follow-up innovations that are built on the base of a successfully proven mRNA technology.
In a paper published in January 2018 at Nature.com, the authors wrote:
mRNA vaccines represent a promising alternative to conventional vaccine approaches because of their high potency, capacity for rapid development and potential for low-cost manufacture and safe administration. However, their application has until recently been restricted by the instability and inefficient in vivo delivery of mRNA. Recent technological advances have now largely overcome these issues, and multiple mRNA vaccine platforms against infectious diseases and several types of cancer have demonstrated encouraging results in both animal models and humans.
The use of mRNA has several beneficial features over subunit, killed and live attenuated virus, as well as DNA-based vaccines. First, safety: as mRNA is a non-infectious, non-integrating platform, there is no potential risk of infection or insertional mutagenesis. Additionally, mRNA is degraded by normal cellular processes, and its in vivo half-life can be regulated through the use of various modifications and delivery methods …Second, efficacy: various modifications make mRNA more stable and highly translatable … Third, production: mRNA vaccines have the potential for rapid, inexpensive and scalable manufacturing, mainly owing to the high yields of in vitro transcription reactions.