It’s been a historic week in the fight against COVID-19, as the world prepares to roll out mass vaccinations before the end of the year.
However, the two leading vaccines by BioNTech -Pfizer and Moderna present logistical issues because of sub-temperature storing. China’s vaccines may help bridge the gaps for non-Western states.
China is currently testing three vaccinate candidates by Sinovac and Sinopharm, using inactive strains of COVID-19 to induce immune responses. They don’t require cold storage chains, which would be useful for lower and middle-income countries that can’t afford or don’t have the capacity for the cold storage chain needed for them to be effective.
This is because BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna both require their vaccines to be stored at very cold temperatures. They’re based on new mRNA technology that requires vaccines to be kept at sub-zero temperatures during shipments.
These temperature requirements could be difficult for poorer, densely populated countries that lack the infrastructure to distribute them.
Because China’s vaccine candidates rely on inactive strains of the virus, they don’t need to be kept quite as cold. Similar to Britain’s AstraZeneca, another candidate in phase III trials, Sinovac said its vaccine can be shipped at temperatures between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. It’s unclear whether Sinopharm’s would be the same.
The UK has become the first country to approve the Pfizer vaccine and began inoculating elderly and healthcare workers earlier in December. In the EU, each of the 27 states will begin distributing doses on 27th December.
Malta is set to receive 1.6 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine including BioNTech-Pfizer and five other jabs secured by the union.
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