hey! writes: Pfizer’s BNT162b2 vaccine must be stored at a constant -100F/-70C temperature, presenting a logistical nightmare for hospitals, which don’t normally have freezers that go that low. This is because it is an mRNA vaccine, and mRNA is unstable unless stored at extremely low temperatures. Pfizer will distribute doses in dry-ice packed “suitcase” shipping containers containing 1,000-5000 doses, but these cases only work for ten days, during which they may be opened only twice a day, each time for less than three minutes. This will pose a special challenge for rural hospitals, who can’t afford specialized freezers; they’ll be forced to distribute hundreds of doses a day from the dry ice packed shipping crates to avoid their stocks going bad. Rural vaccination is further complicated by the fact that the vaccine must be given in two doses spaced three weeks apart. The Moderna MRNA-1273 vaccine candidate is also an mRNA vaccine, but can be stored at -4F/-20C. This is because Moderna has experience in stabilizing mRNA. MRNA-1273 can be stored in a regular hospital freezer, making it a better candidate for smaller hospitals and clinics, although nationwide distribution in the volumes of doses needed is still going to take an unprecedented effort. If both vaccines are approved at the same time, we’ll likely see both rolled out in parallel, with smaller hospitals and clinics getting the Moderna vaccine and higher volume facilities getting the Pfizer vaccine.

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