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Opinion

Covid-19 Vaccine: Center May Not Get Pfizer Vaccines At All

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The Center will deliberate whether to obtain the Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19, which requires a temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius. And the storage requirement isn’t the only hurdle that worries the Covid-19 task force. The amount in which they will be available would not be enough for the Indian population, said NITI member Aayog (Health) Dr. VK Paul, who also heads the National Working Group on Covid-19. But if the vaccine gets regulatory approvals in the meantime, the government will work out a strategy for its acquisition and distribution, he said.

Not just for India, the cold storage requirement for PFizer vaccine will pose a challenge for many countries, a topic that medical experts around the world are highlighting. Both Moderna and Pfizer have announced the results of their initial tests and are awaiting regulatory approvals. India is pinning its hopes on the five vaccines that are in different phases of testing in the country.

Also read: Covid-19 Vaccine Update: Bharat Biotech Begins Phase 3 Trials, Moderna Says Their Candidate Nearly 95% Effective

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

Pfizer and BioNTech SE said last week that their vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19. Moderna said Monday that its Covid-19 vaccine candidate found it to be 94.5 percent effective. Moderna’s vaccine has a normal temperature requirement, unlike PFizer’s.

The 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 largest hospitals in the United States have said they do not have this storage capacity. The drug company has said it will ship the vaccines with dry ice. Injections of the vaccine can be kept for five days between two and eight degrees.

Therefore, even if India plans to purchase Pfizer vaccines, the quantity will be less.

(With PTI inputs)

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