While Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine turned in strong early efficacy numbers and NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said he
expects similar figures from Moderna, the new class of mRNA shots mostly comes with stringent storage requirements that raise logistical hurdles for a broad rollout. Except the program under development at CureVac, which now reports its candidate is stable for up to three months at refrigerator temperatures.
Dubbed CVnCoV, CureVac's shot can also be kept for up to 24 hours at room temperature, further reducing burdens for vaccination efforts, the company
The German biotech, which advanced to phase 2a testing in late September, is "very encouraged by the emerging stability profile," of its vaccine candidate, chief production officer Florian von der Mülbe said in a statement. The profile "has the potential both to enable decentralized storage and to significantly facilitate large-scale vaccination efforts during the current pandemic," he added.
Other vaccines in the new mRNA class, such as the candidates from Pfizer and Moderna, need to be kept at subzero temperatures. Pfizer's shot requires storage at a frigid minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 degrees Celsius), and will only last about 24 hours at refrigerated temperatures between 35.6 and 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the challenges, the company has an
ambitious plan for its rollout.
Aware of the logistical challenges with its candidate, Pfizer is working on a powdered formulation for a potential rollout next year, chief scientist Mikael Dolsten
told Business Insider.
This week, Pfizer reported the two-dose regimen was more than 90% effective in an early phase 3 analysis. Questions remain about the vaccine's safety, its durability of protection and its effects among various patient populations.
RELATED: Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine looks impressive, but Sanofi, J&J and Novavax shots eye a logistics edge
Sanofi and Translate Bio are advancing a vaccine that needs to be stored at an even colder 112 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. A spokeswoman this week said the team is “working on improving the stability," and is targeting a storage temperature of minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile, Moderna is expected to post its first phase 3 data soon. That vaccine requires storage at minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Outside the mRNA class, other players such as Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax are advancing shots that can be stored at refrigerated temperatures. A J&J spokesman said the company anticipates its vaccine will be "compatible with standard distribution channels without the need for new distribution infrastructure."
RELATED: CureVac climbs on vaccine data despite tolerability questions
CureVac this week posted more positive early data for its program, but questions about its tolerability remain. The company advanced to a phase 2a study in Peru and Panama back in September.