The two American laboratories reported an efficiency of over 90% and are developed with the same technology, but there is a fundamental distinction that developing countries and rural areas follow with great attention, in addition to price
November 16, 2020 Share on FacebookShare Share on TwitterTweet Share on WhatsAppShare
A nurse readies a dose of Moderna's vaccine (Hans Pennink / Associated Press)
If Pfizer's announcement of more than 90% efficacy for its coronavirus vaccine caused a buzz in the markets, Moderna's preliminary report, with a rate of 94.5%, could be even more far-reaching, as although the candidates are very similar, there is a substantial difference that favors less developed countries and rural areas with less healthcare structure.
Both Moderna's and Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccines are the so-called mRNA vaccines, a new technology that does not use the coronavirus itself, but instead contains a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the puncture protein on the surface. of the virus.
Also, both require two doses to generate immunity against COVID-19 in the body, with a slight distinction: Pfizer separates applications by 21 days, while Moderna requires a gap of 28 days between the first and second vaccination.
But the big difference is in the conservation requirements .
Pfizer's formula must be kept at -70 ° C at all times, which could pose a major logistical brake to ensure its worldwide distribution. For their distribution in the last section of the chain, the doses only last five days under common refrigeration . It is not enough with a standard freezer, which usually reaches -20 ° C, therefore it would require an unprecedented modernization for the sanitary infrastructure, even in companies outside the healthcare sector.
Freezer room at Pfizer laboratories in Belgium (Reuters)
50 ° C difference
The Moderna report, on the other hand, is much more encouraging. As detailed, its doses also require freezing for storage and transport, but at less extreme temperatures, -20 ° C. Under these conditions, they can be kept for a period of up to six months.
Also, its shelf life in common refrigeration is six times longer: up to 30 days in conditions much more accessible for transport firms, hospitals and pharmacies or vaccination centers. Previous reports anticipated that it would last only seven days in a refrigerator, so the report has been widely celebrated. As if that were not enough, they also pointed out that the doses can be 12 hours at room temperature .
“This vaccine presents the opportunity to be used in doctors' offices, pharmacies and vaccination points,” infectious disease expert William Schaffner told the New York Times, adding that it would not be a surprise if, in case both formulas are approved , health officials choose Moderna.
Extreme temperature freezers like the one required by Pfizer cost up to $ 10,000 in the United States and are also very energy intensive. “The extremely cold temperature requirement is likely to cause many vaccines to deteriorate,” warned Michael Kinch, a vaccine specialist at Washington University in St. Louis.
“It is expensive to produce, its component is unstable, it also requires cold chain transport, and has a short shelf life,” said Ding Sheng, director of the Beijing-based Global Health Drug Discovery Institute, which has received funding from the Bill Foundation. & Melinda Gates.
To counteract this inconvenience, Pfizer has designed a special box to transport your long-awaited vaccine . These devices may hold a couple hundred glass vials, with ten to twenty doses of the vaccine in each. The boxes are equipped with GPS temperature sensors that will allow the company to know where the boxes are located and how cold they are. If it is not low enough, workers can add dry ice.
Transportation companies must train their staff to ensure that the cold chain is not broken (FedEx)
The resulting price (outside of the cost of the vaccine) may be too high for many developing countries, including India, which has struggled to contain the world's second-largest coronavirus outbreak and currently has no agreement to purchase the vaccine. Pfizer.
Another relevant difference in the aspect of facilitating its distribution and application is that the Moderna doses do not need to be diluted at the vaccination site .
Pfizer invested $ 2 billion of its own funds for research and development, while Moderna is part of the US government's Operation Warp Speed program, under which it has received $ 2.5 billion from federal coffers to fund the scientific process and manufacturing.
Finally, the price between the two also separates them . Moderna has reported that each of the doses will cost between USD 32 and USD 37 “for some clients”, in the middle of negotiations with the White House. Meanwhile, the vials from Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech would cost almost half, USD 19.5, according to negotiations with the US and European countries on large-scale purchases. It is possible that as manufacturing reaches higher scales the price will decrease.
(With information from AP)