For Pfizer And Moderna, The Hard Part Isn’t Over Yet
Manufacturing enough COVID-19 vaccines, distributing them and storing them are among the major concerns for vaccine makers in the months ahead.
The New York Times:
The Coronavirus Vaccines Will Likely Work. Making Them Fast Will Be Hard.
The promising news that not just one but two coronavirus vaccines were more than 90 percent effective in early results has buoyed hopes that an end to the pandemic is in sight. But even if the vaccines are authorized soon by federal regulators — the companies developing them have said they expect to apply soon — only a sliver of the American public will be able to get one by the end of the year. The two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have estimated they will have 45 million doses, or enough to vaccinate 22.5 million Americans, by January. (Thomas, 11/17)
Moderna’s Covid Vaccine Maker Identifies ‘Big Challenges’ To Mass Production
As the market revelry at the news continued, attention quickly turned to practical matters given the unprecedented logistical challenge posed by producing and distributing vaccines, should they receive final regulatory approval, to a global population of around 7 billion people. Vaccines need to be produced and transported in specific (and cold) conditions otherwise they can be rendered ineffective; this poses a huge challenge for global drugmakers when it comes to vaccine distribution. (Ellyatt, 11/18)
The Washington Post:
A Vial, A Vaccine And Hopes For Slowing A Pandemic — How A Shot Comes To Be
In a vast Pfizer warehouse in Kalamazoo, Mich., with hundreds of ultracold freezers standing sentry, the final leg of an unprecedented scientific, medical and industrial relay race is about to get underway. Each day, the large freezers fill with stacks of white trays — “pizza boxes,” workers call them, because they’re about the size of a personal pan pizza — loaded with 195 identical glass vials. Each tube, about the size of a pinkie finger, contains a few precious droplets of frozen coronavirus vaccine, enough, when thawed and diluted, to give five people a first shot of protection against a pathogen that has killed more than 247,000 people in the United States. (Johnson, 11/17)
Pfizer CEO Says No Concerns About Distribution Of Vaccine
Pfizer's CEO on Tuesday sought to calm concerns about the distribution challenges of needing ultra-cold storage for his company's COVID-19 vaccine. "I feel very very confident about it," Albert Bourla said during an interview at a STAT News event. Bourla said the company has developed a special isothermic box which will not need to be shipped in refrigerated trucks or planes. (Weixel, 11/17)
Airlines Scramble To Prepare For Ultra-Cold COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Airlines are scrambling to prepare ultra-cold shipping and storage facilities to transport COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, whose doses, which require deep freezing, are likely to be among the first to be distributed. A recent survey by an air cargo association and a drug shippers' group found only 15% of industry participants felt ready to transport goods near the minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94°F) required by the Pfizer Inc vaccine, while around 60% could meet Moderna Inc's less stringent -20°C requirement. (Frost and Wissenbach, 11/18)
Volunteers Still Needed To Test Variety Of COVID-19 Vaccines
Two COVID-19 vaccines might be nearing the finish line, but scientists caution it’s critical that enough people volunteer to help finish studying other candidates in the U.S. and around the world. Moderna Inc. and competitor Pfizer Inc. recently announced preliminary results showing their vaccines appear more than 90% effective, at least for short-term protection against COVID-19. (Neergaard, 11/17)
Government-Funded Scientists Laid The Groundwork For Billion-Dollar Vaccines
When he started researching a troublesome childhood infection nearly four decades ago, virologist Dr. Barney Graham, then at Vanderbilt University, had no inkling his federally funded work might be key to deliverance from a global pandemic. Yet nearly all the vaccines advancing toward possible FDA approval this fall or winter are based on a design developed by Graham and his colleagues, a concept that emerged from a scientific quest to understand a disastrous 1966 vaccine trial. (Allen, 11/18)
The Wall Street Journal:
Moderna And Pfizer Are Reinventing Vaccines, Starting With Covid
The strong early results for two leading Covid-19 vaccines have implications that go far beyond the current pandemic: They suggest the time has come for a gene-based technology that could provide new treatments for cancer, heart disease and other infectious diseases. The unproven technology, named messenger RNA after the molecular couriers that deliver genetic instructions, has long eluded researchers. An mRNA vaccine has never been cleared by regulators. It is now the basis for Covid-19 vaccines from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE. (Loftus, Hopkins and Pancevski, 11/17)
Moderna’s Vaccine Announcement Is Promising News. Here’s What We Do Not Know.
Once again, one of the leading coronavirus vaccine candidates delivered promising news and the stock market jumped while most everyone celebrated. But there is a lot we do not know about this vaccine. ... Are these drugs preventing infection or are they just producing antibodies that keep the virus from harming us when we get infected? How long will these vaccines last? Will we need a booster shot? How often? (Tompkins, 11/17)