AUSTIN (KXAN) — Pharmaceutical company Pfizer will bring its new coronavirus vaccine to Texas as part of a pilot delivery system, according to the CEO of Benchmark Research.
“Pfizer is moving forward with this soon,” said Mark Lacy, the CEO of the company helping conduct COVID-19 vaccine trials in Austin. “All we know is that Pfizer’s hopes are to take what it learns from the results of this pilot program and adopt it as a model for the rest of ours and other countries.”
Reuters reports Texas, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Tennessee were selected for the pilot program due to their size, population diversity, immunization infrastructure, and the need to reach people both in large cities and rural communities.
Pfizer announced on Nov. 9 promising early results from its coronavirus vaccine that it was 90% effective. Drug maker Moderna followed up on that Monday with news of its own that its coronavirus vaccine was 94.5% effective in early trials.
The Pfizer vaccine is reported to require storage at -94 degrees Fahrenheit (-70 degrees Celsius). That’s what make this test delivery system so important.
Neither Texas nor the other three states will actually get the vaccine any faster than other states, and Reuters did not say exactly what will make this delivery system different.
Prior to the Tuesday’s report, Chris Van Deusen, the Director of Media Relations for the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, told KXAN Pfizer would ship the vaccines in thermal coolers which can be stocked with up to 5,000 doses of the vaccine and topped off with a layer of dry ice. Orders for these thermal cooler shipments will need to include a minimum of around 1,000 doses of the vaccine, Van Deusen explained, noting the state is asking to see if they can request smaller batches for more rural areas.
At first, he said, these shipments will go to places that have ultra-cold freezers that can store the vaccines. But for places without those special freezers, the thermal coolers can be restocked with dry ice to last longer.
Pfizer says it expects to have enough test data on its vaccine by the third week of November to apply for emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the U.S. over the weekend — 1 million of them recorded in just the past week — and governors and mayors are ratcheting up restrictions ahead of Thanksgiving. The outbreak has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, over 246,000 of them in the U.S.