The COVID-19 vaccine candidates developed by Moderna Inc. and BioNTech and Pfizer Inc. will require strict standards for cooling, and that may hinder how they are distributed to the hundreds of millions of Americans who expect to receive them.
Shares of Modern MRNA,
were 3.6% lower in trading on Thursday, following a rally on Wednesday after the company revealed that people over the age of 55 who participated in the Phase 1 trial had shown neutral anti-titers . Pfizer’s PFE,
share was 0.5% lower in Thursday trading, while BioNTech BNTX,
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Managers of Moderna and Pfizer on Wednesday separately told the Advisory Committee on Centers for Immunization and Prevention on Immunization Practice on Wednesday that mRNA-1273, which is the candidate for coronavirus vaccine for storage, requires a storage temperature of negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit. The candidates of BioNTech and Pfizer, BN1162b2 and BNT162b2, should be stored in negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
“These storage conditions would make traditional office or pharmacy administration very difficult,” SVB Leerink analysts wrote in a note to investors on Thursday. “These conditions could be met at tertiary hospitals and laboratories and could be accommodated in intensive one-day vaccination events at such sites, but this would still cover only a fraction of the healthy population.”
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Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they were aware of the problem.
Dr. Kathleen Dooling, a medical officer for the bureau’s viral diseases division, said Wednesday that requirements for storage, distribution and handling of these vaccines “make it very difficult for community clinics and local pharmacies to store and manage.” She also notes that most fax machines “need to be administered in centralized locations with adequate equipment and high throughput.”
Pfizer will need to use ultra-low temperature freezers and thermal shipper storage for its COVID-19 vaccine candidates, according to comments made by Drs. Nicholas Kitchin, senior director of Pfizer’s clinical research and development group for vaccines.
The faxes developed by Moderna, BioNTech, and Pfizer are mRNA faxes; however, other types of faxes require less intensive storage rules. Concerns about the difficulties of storing and sending mMRNA COVID-19 faxes to hundreds of millions of people could put the makers of these candidates at a competitive disadvantage, analysts say. It may also separate the Moderna vaccine from that developed by BioNTech and Pfizer.
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There are about half a dozen vaccine candidates for COVID-19 in clinical trials in the US, however, not all are mRNA vaccines. The vaccine is being developed by AstraZeneca AZN,
and Oxford University is a recombinant viral vaccine, for example, while INO of Inovio Pharmaceutical Inc.,
candidate is DNA based.
“Investors are increasingly looking for storage and delivery terms for vaccine candidates because they consider competitive position,” SVB Leerink’s Mani Faroohor said in a separate note to investors.
Since the beginning of the year, the share of Moderna has risen 244.5%, shares of BioNTech have gained 91.9%, and the share of Pfizer is 3.3% lower. The S&P 500 SPX,
is up 7.7% for the year.