Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and its German partner BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) reported incredible efficacy data from a phase 3 trial for their mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidate. This news, paired with the equally impressive data from Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) about its candidate that takes a similar approach, inspired much hope around the world and injected optimism into the stock market.
The Motley Fool talked to Dr. Leo Nissola about some challenges that could temper the enthusiasm around Pfizer’s vaccine candidate.
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Corinne Cardina: You mentioned there’s still a lot of things that we don’t know. I think one of the things that people are concerned about, particularly as it relates to the mRNA vaccine is the cold chain. These specific types of vaccines, they have to be kept ultra cold. That means that your neighborhood pharmacy won’t necessarily have the right refrigeration to distribute these. Do you have any thoughts about how we should be thinking about distribution of these mRNA vaccines if they come to fruition?
Dr. Leo Nissola: Yeah. It’s big challenge logistically to deliver a vaccine for 330 million Americans. Let alone a vaccine that requires that. Those are two logistical nightmares. The fact that it requires refrigeration, I’m not that concerned about for many reasons. In cancer research, we use drugs and molecules that require quite the preparation for them. We are able to deliver that to patients across the country in clinical trials. Pharmaceutical companies have been doing this for a very long time. Of course, it’s not your flu vaccine that you can just walk around the corner. We are first stepping into the realm of coronavirus’ vaccines for COVID-19. That said, what worries me more, it’s not the logistical hurdle of delivery of vaccine that requires refrigeration, but what concerns me more, is who’s going to get this vaccine first and how we’re going to prioritize the populations that should receive the vaccine in the first beginning of the distribution. Is that going to be healthcare workers? Is that going to be essential workers? Are we going to give it to elderly and high-risk populations? Right now, I think the country demands bold experimentation then, the same goes with science. We have to try and sometimes, it fails and sometimes we get it right. Pfizer really is saying there is a 90% chance of being right, I’m very hopeful. I think we should all cherish this potential good news.