SARS-CoV2 vaccine supply chain complexities start to dominate the discussion around the capacity of the existing infrastructure to be capable of mass vaccination in a timely and efficient manner.
Katharin Czink and Dina Bair describe the current state and characteristics of the vaccines under development.
Most of the experimental vaccines require two doses given a month apart. So far two of seven study vaccines are rising to the top. The two leading candidates do not have preservatives and therefore they are temperature sensitive.
Moderna’s vaccine arrives at -20C degrees and can be stored for two weeks in a regular refrigerator. But Pfizer’s shot requires a -70C degrees storage temperature which may impact where it’s distributed in mass. Pfizer will ship doses in special containers with dry ice which must be replaced every five days. Hospitals typically have sufficient cold storage.
This is going to be more complicated depending on the vaccine some of the vaccines have to be frozen in liquid nitrogen or at very low temps and most clinical practices don’t have the capacity to deal with that.
n addition to vaccines, supply kits with needles, syringes, alcohol pads and surgical masks will be shipped to distribution sites.
Here’s the potential schedule: If both vaccines are proving safe in trials, 3 million doses will be shipped in October. That ramps up to 20-30 million in November with another 45 million arriving in December. For a total of potentially 78 million vaccinations. If there is a hitch with either top candidate, only 1-2 million doses will go out in October. With 10-20 million by November and 15-30 million by December. In the best-case scenario here, 52 million people will get a vaccine. All of this depends on the current trials continuing without delay and the manufacturing process running smoothly.
The question remains on what the most effective deployment strategy is going to be. Current prioritization has health care and front-line workers together with people in risk categories with pre-existing conditions prioritized. The common believe is that large urban centers should be targeted after this. With the limited number of vaccines available: where would that be?
Capabilities to model effective distribution and rapidly process different scenarios as new environmental / epidemiological data will become available during the distribution phase, will be crucial for an optimized vaccine deployment strategy. Through its network of scientific relationship and leading technologists, MUUTAA is contributing to provide tools to help in this quest.