Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Lacking in power and freezers, Pfizer vax may not work in India – ET HealthWorld

New Delhi: While Pfizer raised hopes with its Covid vaccine’s efficacy, it will entail huge efforts for India to defeat the virus. About 100 drug development teams worldwide are racing to develop coronavirus vaccines, with the hope of distributing them globally on a scale never before witnessed. Amid this, Pfizer Inc on Monday said that their trials showed more than 90% efficacy for the vaccine.

While this is reason to cheer, there is also the fact that it needs to be stored at sub-zero temperatures — a logistical nightmare for India with few ultra-cold freezers, patchy power and a largely rural population.

“The new two-shot vaccine from Pfizer has to be maintained at minus 80°C — nowhere on the planet does the logistical capacity exist to distribute vaccines at this temperature,” said Toby Peters, a professor at Britain’s University of Birmingham.

Although vaccines could prove a gamechanger for the pandemic, wealthy nations have already bought up more than half the future supply of leading contenders, Oxfam has said. India has been scrambling to secure 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccines by July from various manufacturers, in addition to developing its own government-backed Covaxin. India also plans to manufacture up to 200 million doses of candidate vaccines from AstraZeneca Plc and Novavax Inc next year.

India has a strong record on vaccination, with the world’s largest programme distributing 400 million vaccines a year, said Peters. But nearly half of the leading vaccine candidates need cold storage as low as minus 80°C, researchers say, requiring seamless cold chain distribution

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, head, Biocon Ltd, voiced concerns over storage of the new vaccine. “The Pfizer vaccine is unlikely to make its way to India because the ultra-cold chain that it requires,” she said. Agencies

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