Covid vaccine: How will we keep it cold enough?

By Zoe Kleinman
Technology reporter

Publishedduration10 NovemberRelated Topics

  • Coronavirus pandemic

image copyrightGetty Images

News about the world's first successful trial of a coronavirus vaccine was greeted with jubilation on Monday.

But while there are a number of reasons to remain cautious, there's at least one one big practical hurdle to overcome.

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Health Secretary Matt Hancock spoke of the "mammoth logistical operation" of transporting the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from its point of manufacture to the arm of the patient.

That's because it cannot be removed from a temperature of -70C (-94F) more than four times.

And that temperature is much lower than what the average home freezer can reach.

Most other vaccines do not require anywhere near such low storage temperatures, so there is not a widespread infrastructure already in place.

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In its own disclosure notice, Pfizer acknowledges there are "challenges related to our vaccine candidate's ultra-low temperature formulation and attendant storage, distribution and administration requirements".

At the Downing Street press conference on Monday, England's deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam warned that even in normal times, "things can and do and have always gone wrong" when it comes to both vaccine manufacture and distribution.

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