Covid-19 vaccine: Centre may not procure Pfizer shots at all

The Centre will deliberate if Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19, which needs a temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius, should be obtained at all. And the storage requirement is not the only roadblock the Covid-19 task force is worries about. The quantity in which they will be available would not be sufficient for Indian population, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul, who also heads the National Task Force on Covid-19, said. But if the vaccine gets regulatory approvals meanwhile, the government will work out a strategy for procurement and distribution, he said.

Not only for India, the cold storage requirement of the PFizer vaccine will pose a challenge to many countries — an issue that is being highlighted by medical experts across the world. Both Moderna and Pfizer have announced the results of their initial trials and are awaiting regulatory approvals. India is pinning its hope on the five vaccines that are under different phases of trial in the country.

Also Read: Covid-19 vaccine update: Bharat Biotech begins phase 3 trials, Moderna says its candidate nearly 95% effective

The five candidates also include Russia’s Sputnik-V whose trials in India will start next week in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, apart from Bharat Biotech’s indigenous COVAXIN and Serum Institutes Oxford vaccine Covishield. Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D and another vaccine being developed by Biological E. Ltd alongside Baylor College of Medicine and Dynavax Technologies Corp are also on the list.

Pfizer and BioNTech SE last week said their vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19. Moderna on Monday said its vaccine candidate against Covid-19, found it to have an efficacy of 94.5 per cent. Moderna’s vaccine has normal temperature requirement, unlike that of PFizer.

Pfizer vaccine requires minus 70 degrees Celsius as it is based on a technology that uses synthetic mRNA to activate the immune system against the virus. The biggest hospitals in the United States have said they don;t have this storage capacity. The pharma company has said it will ship the vaccines using dry ice. The vaccine shots can be kept for five days at two to eight degrees.

Hence, even if India plans to procure Pfizer vaccines, the quantity will be less.

(With PTI inputs)

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