health

How Pfizer vaccine could be cold comfort for some Asian nations

7 Comments
By Rocky Swift, Sangmi Cha and Neil Jerome Morales

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Some Asian countries are prioritising containing the novel coronavirus rather than looking to stockpile vaccines, while others are looking for alternatives to the messenger RNA technology used by Pfizer that requires such ultra-cold storage.

This is the smart thing to do, social distancing measures are hard, and expensive to the economy, but holding some extra time instead of investing a huge amount of resources to fit the infrastructure to mRNA vaccine storage and delivery is a very dangerous bet.

Pfizer vaccine main point was never efficacy but safety, it mimics a small part of the viral infection and make the body exposed to the coronavirus spike protein in limited quantities, this makes the vaccine likely to be less potent than more simple approaches (just injecting the purified protein itself in much higher concentrations) but also makes it less likely to result in side-effects.

The vaccine is apparently effective and safe (we still need to wait until the final data is collected to be sure) but that also means that other candidates are also very likely to have high efficacy. And if for those other vaccines you only need a normal refrigerator that can keep it at 4 degrees Celsius then everything get much more cheaper and easier to do.

Let the high-risk people on developed nations get vaccinated with the first option available, for all we know the next vaccine, much easier to handle, will be ready a few weeks later and countries will not have to waste a lot of money on deep freezers.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

sorry "not a very dangerous bet"

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There will probably be other vaccines developed that do not need to be kept at such low temperatures, but if keeping it at a low temperature is the only other hurdle to overcome, then I think we can think of a way to do that.

The technology to keep a vaccine at minus 70 C already exists, and just needs to be implemented. If we can make a vaccine, we can make the refrigerators needed to store and transport it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The technology to keep a vaccine at minus 70 C already exists, and just needs to be implemented. If we can make a vaccine, we can make the refrigerators needed to store and transport it.

They are a bit pricey. I bought a cheap model for a little over 500,000 yen. Considering the price and space, I suspect many smaller clinics would not get one.

But how long is the vaccine stable once it is taken out of -70C?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But how long is the vaccine stable once it is taken out of -70C?

According to the BBC, it's viable for up to 5 days in an ordinary fridge.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

One way around the high price of an appropriate freezer would be for portable ones to be used as necessary, operated by governments or institutions large enough to bear the cost.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

According to the BBC, it's viable for up to 5 days in an ordinary fridge.

Oh, if that's the case then clinics don't need their own -70C freezer. Perhaps one freezer for each region, and I guess they can also use dry ice for delivery and short-term storage.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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