Why Pfizer’s vaccine won’t be at the local pharmacy anytime soon

Why Pfizer’s vaccine won’t be at the local pharmacy anytime soon

NEW YORK – Work to distribute the experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE is gearing up after the companies announced successful interim data on Monday, but it will not be coming to local pharmacies for the general public any time soon.

The data showed that the two companies’ experimental vaccine is 90% effective at preventing COVID-19. They are still awaiting data on safety, which could come later this month.

Pfizer and BioNTech need to get regulators to sign off on the shot before it can start shipping vaccines to those considered most in need by government. Health care workers and people living in nursing homes will likely top that list.

But the vaccine’s complex and supercold storage requirements are an obstacle for even the most sophisticated hospitals in the United States and may impact when and where it is available in rural areas or poor countries where resources are tight.

The main issue is that the vaccine, which is based on a novel technology that uses synthetic mRNA to activate the immune system against the virus, needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 F) or below.