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Thursday Nov 12 2020
By
Reuters

COVID-19 vaccine: US NIH head says cold storage issues may hamper distribution in 'developing world'

By
Reuters
The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci, speaks at the U.S. Capitol Washington, US, September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Pool/Graeme Jennings/Files

The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci, said Wednesday it would be challenging to distribute vaccines that use messenger RNA based technology in developing countries owing to their cold storage requirements.

“It does have cold-chain challenges as it were. In a country like the UK and the United States we can address them and it still would be challenging," Dr Fauci said at the Financial Times’ global pharmaceutical and biotechnology conference.

"But, probably much more challenging in countries in the developing world,” he added.

The comments come days after Pfizer Inc said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective based on initial trial results and that it expects to file for US emergency authorization this month.

The vaccine candidate uses synthetic messenger RNA to activate the immune system against the virus and needs to be kept at minus 70°C (-94 F) or below.

Moderna Inc’s experimental vaccine — which is on track to report early data from a late-stage trial later this month — also uses mRNA technology and needs to be stored at minus 20°C (-4 F).

“That’s the reason why when we put together our plan ... we want to have a diversity of what we call vaccine platforms. It is not just mRNA ... there are three separate platforms that are being looked at in the United States,” Fauci said.