Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE plan to begin soon testing a freeze-dried version of its Covid-19 vaccine, which if proven to work safely could ease storage and handling of the shots in rural U.S. areas and low-income countries. In April, Pfizer is set to start a clinical trial evaluating a so-called lyophilized formulation in adults 18 to 55 years old in the U.S., according to a government database, clinicaltrials.gov, and confirmed by the company.
The 1,100-subject study would last about two months, with researchers seeking to determine whether the lyophilized version is as safe and effective as the version authorized by regulators beginning late last year. Researchers would administer to subjects either the lyophilized version or the current formulation. If successful, the new formulation could be ready for use by early next year, Pfizer said on an earnings call last month. Lyophilized vaccines offer advantages to frozen or liquid vaccines because they only need standard refrigeration. That would help with storage and handling and expand access in rural areas and low-income countries that lack specialized equipment. Examples of vaccines that can be lyophilized include shots for preventing shingles or rotavirus.
Thermo Fisher Deploys Sensors for Detecting Airborne COVID-19
Thermo Fisher Scientific is rolling out a new device designed to monitor rooms for airborne viruses, including the coronavirus behind COVID-19. The company said its AerosolSense Sampler is designed to help hospitals, nursing homes, schools, offices and other locations surveil high-traffic areas for elevated levels of the pathogen, providing an early-warning layer of screening that can be combined with individual diagnostic tests after the pandemic begins to subside.
The toaster oven-sized machine collects aerosol samples and traps any pathogens on a removable cartridge—with the ability to completely filter the air of a 1,000-square-foot room in under 20 hours—which is then analyzed in a laboratory using Thermo Fisher’s established TaqPath COVID-19 molecular test kit. “Such factors as emerging variants, semi-vaccinated populations and varying levels of compliance with COVID-19 personal safety protocols, continue to pose risks to a society looking to return to life as it was before the pandemic,” said Thermo Fisher’s chief operating officer, Mark Stevenson. The system has been specifically validated for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the company said, but it is also designed to capture a variety of airborne diseases.