Moderna Inc’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine is more stable than expected at temperatures that ordinary refrigerators can provide and can be distributed using existing cold-chain shipping and storage infrastructure.
That opens the door for its early use in hard to reach places that might not be appropriate for Pfizer Inc’s vaccine which needs ultra-cold storage.
Moderna’s vaccine is stable for up to six months at a temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4 F), about home freezer levels, when shipped and stored.
The company said it expects the vaccine to be stable when kept at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for 30 days, up from an initial projection of 7 days. The vaccine will be distributed in 10-dose vials and can be kept at room temperature for up to 12 hours after thawing.
By comparison, Pfizer’s vaccine can be transported and stored for up to 6 months at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F). It can be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures for up to five days.
Moderna’s vaccine will be distributed by the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program. U.S. health officials have said that at first they are most likely to distribute vaccines to healthcare workers, people who are in nursing homes, first responders and those with health conditions who are high-risk.
Most Americans will be inoculated in May or June, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
Under Operation Warp Speed’s distribution plan, the first group of shots will likely be distributed to and administered in closed settings, like hospitals and nursing homes.
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