Doctor: Pfizer will have to produce more than 600 million batches of COVID-19 vaccine for US alone
Pfizer is now working to get approval from the Federal Drug Administration on a COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Amesh Adalja says there are challenges that come with getting the vaccine ready for widespread distribution.
Adalja is a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Maryland. He estimates that just in the United States alone, Pfizer will have to produce more than 600 million batches of a two-dose vaccine.
“This is going to be one of the most complicated undertakings in the history of the world,” says Adalja.
Pfizer is using what is known as mRNA Technology, with genetic strands that produce proteins in a person’s body to mimic those found in a specific virus.
Adalja says that unlike many vaccines that just require refrigeration, Pfizer production must be kept at frigid temperatures of at least minus 70 degrees Celsius for the vaccine to remain effective.
“This is something that no hospital has the capacity to do, so we are going to have to figure out a way to keep this virus's cold chain intact,” says Adalja.
He says plans are in the works to figure out how to keep the vaccine cold enough for widespread distribution.
“The government program called Operation Warp Speed is working on a delivery mechanism. They are working with companies like UPS as well as another company to try to develop a distribution pathway and it's probably going to be one of the biggest challenges that we face,” says Adalja.
He says Pfizer is conducting more research on how to store its vaccine at higher temperatures to keep it effective in the fight against the coronavirus.
“It could only remain viable for a couple of hours in a normal refrigerator, so this is going to be one of the most complicated vaccine undertaking,” says Adalja.