Pfizer Inc has launched a pilot delivery program for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in four U.S. states, as the U.S. drugmaker seeks to address distribution challenges facing its ultra-cold storage requirements. Pfizer’s vaccine, which was shown to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on initial data, must be shipped and stored at -70 degrees Celsius (minus 94°F), significantly below the standard for vaccines of 2-8 degrees Celsius (36-46°F).
“We are hopeful that results from this vaccine delivery pilot will serve as the model for other U.S. states and international governments, as they prepare to implement effective COVID-19 vaccine programs,” Pfizer said in a statement on Monday. It picked Rhode Island, Texas, New Mexico, and Tennessee for the program after taking into account their differences in overall size, diversity of populations, immunization infrastructure, and need to reach individuals in varied urban and rural settings.
U.S. Hospitals to Restrict Lilly COVID-19 Antibody Treatment Due to Limited Supply
U.S. hospitals, weighing high demand and tight supplies, said they may limit use of a new Eli Lilly and Co LLY.N antibody drug to COVID-19 patients with multiple risk factors for serious illness or to those whose immune systems have not begun to fight the infection. The treatment, bamlanivimab, was given U.S. emergency use authorization (EUA) last week by the Food and Drug Administration for helping newly-diagnosed, high-risk patients avoid hospitalization. “There will be a lot of pressure on physicians,” said Dr. Adarsh Bhimraj, an infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic and chair of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s guidelines panel, which is still discussing its recommendations for the drug.
President Donald Trump has touted experimental antibody drugs after being treated with a similar therapy from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc REGN.O during his own bout with COVID-19. The federal government has paid $1,250 per dose for 300,000 doses of bamlanivimab, which experts estimate may only be enough for one weeks’ worth of Americans becoming infected, based on the FDA label identifying appropriate patients.