Pfizer working on powder form of COVID-19 vax

Nov. 11, 2020

Pfizer thrilled the world this week with news that its mRNA coronavirus candidate has been shown to be 90 percent effective in preliminary results from its phase 3 trial.

But there is a major cloud hanging over the company’s vaccine — it has to be stored in temperatures as cold as minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit, posing significant challenges to shipping and distributing the drug.

As other companies, such as J&J, tout their vaccines as viable alternatives because they don’t require such frigid temps, Pfizer is also reportedly working on its own solution.

This week, the company’s chief scientist told Business Insider that it is developing a powder form of the vaccine. Powdered — or lyophilized — vaccines are often reconstituted with a liquid and then injected. The new powder vaccine would reportedly work for standard refrigeration temperatures and could be ready in 2021.

Meanwhile, to help with the new vaccine’s cold chain concerns, Pfizer has innovated a thermal cooler that comes equipped with data monitoring. The company says that the container is about the size of a suitcase and uses dry ice to maintain ultra-cold temperatures. After being opened, the vaccine vials will reportedly be able to be stored in normal refrigerators for up to five days — or the dry ice can be replaced to extend storage time in the container for up to 15 days.