Pfizer launches Covid-19 vaccine delivery trial in four US states

The drugmaker, whose vaccine candidate has 90% efficacy, will run the programme in Rhode Island, Texas, New Mexico and Tennessee

Pfizer has launched a pilot delivery program for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in four US states, as the drugmaker seeks to address distribution challenges posed by its ultra-cold storage requirements.

The US drugmaker said it had selected Rhode Island, Texas, New Mexico, and Tennessee for the program because of their differences in overall size, diversity of populations and immunisation infrastructure, as well as the states’ need to reach individuals in varied urban and rural settings.

“The four states included in this pilot program will not receive vaccine doses earlier than other states by virtue of this pilot, nor will they receive any differential consideration,” Pfizer said in a statement.

“We are hopeful that results from this vaccine delivery pilot will serve as the model for other US states and international governments, as they prepare to implement effective Covid-19 vaccine programs.”

A week ago, Pfizer released initial data on its vaccine developed with German partner BioNTech SE that showed it to have an efficacy of more than 90%.

Pfizer’s vaccine must be shipped and stored at -70 degrees Celsius (-94°F), significantly below the standard for vaccines of two-to-eight degrees Celsius (36-46°F).

Earlier on Monday, rival Moderna Inc said its experimental vaccine had 94.5% efficacy in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, boosting hopes that vaccines against the disease may be ready for use soon. Moderna’s vaccine does not require ultracold freezing, a factor that could prove to be major advantage over Pfizer’s product.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a new technology called synthetic messenger RNA to activate the immune system against the virus.

Experts have raised concerns about the distribution challenges associated with Pfizer’s vaccine due to its specialised storage requirements.

Riding a swell of optimism that a vaccine may soon control the coronavirus and the economic destruction it has caused, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to a record Monday for the first time in nine months. 

Leading the way were stocks of companies that would benefit most from an economy busting out of its forced hibernation, such as airlines, movie theatres and banks. 

Pandemic-winning stocks that benefited from lockdown orders like Amazon and Zoom Video Communications lagged as they no longer looked like the only safe bets to play.

The Dow jumped 470.63 points, or 1.6%, to 29,950.44. It surpassed its prior closing record of 29,551.42, set in February before pandemic panic sent stocks plunging.

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