Pfizer picks 4 US states for pilot vaccine delivery programme

WASHINGTON • Pfizer has started a pilot delivery programme for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in four US states, as it tries to address distribution challenges facing its ultra-cold storage requirements.

The drugmaker’s vaccine, which was shown to be over 90 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 based on initial data, must be shipped and stored at minus 70 deg C, significantly below the 2-8 deg C standard for vaccines.

“We are hopeful that results from this vaccine delivery pilot will serve as the model for other US states and international governments, as they prepare to implement effective Covid-19 vaccine programmes,” Pfizer said in a statement on Monday.

The US company picked Rhode Island, Texas, New Mexico and Tennessee for the programme after taking into account their differences in overall size, diversity of populations and immunisation infrastructure, as well as the need to reach individuals in varied urban and rural settings.

The four states will not receive vaccine doses earlier than other states by virtue of the pilot, nor will they receive any differential consideration, Pfizer said.

The company expects to have enough safety data on the vaccine from the ongoing large-scale late-stage trials by this week before proceeding to apply for emergency-use authorisation.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have a US$1.95 billion (S$2.6 billion) deal to supply 100 million doses of the vaccine to the United States government, which has an option to acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.

Earlier on Monday, rival Moderna said its experimental vaccine was 94.5 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, boosting hopes that vaccines against the disease may be ready for use soon.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a new technology called synthetic messenger RNA to activate the immune system against the virus.

REUTERS

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