There are currently two vaccines on the market: one of Pfizer and partner BioNTech and another from Moderna biotechnology. Both received emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late 2020.
But the new year has brought with it a slow deployment for those who are currently eligible to receive their coronavirus vaccines, such as frontline healthcare workers, their support staff, and nursing home residents. But for those who can get the vaccine, which of the two vaccines one might get will largely depend on where you live, according to public health and life science experts.
It is still too early to say how things will move once production of these vaccines increases, but it is reasonable to assume that large cities may have better access to the vaccine which requires colder storage – Pfizer’s vaccine. .
While the respective vaccines of Pfizer and Moderna come from the same cool science and have shown similar efficacy rates in clinical trials, they have different manufacturing processes, storage requirements, and dosage regimens, which means that a strong distribution strategy is essential.
“It’s much more complex in the United States than in many other countries,” says Ali Tinazli, commercial director of Fluxergy, a California-based diagnostic specialist who is developing a rapid response COVID testing system.
Tinazli believes any strategy to distribute the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines – and other potential vaccines that will receive clearance in the future such as those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson – in this country will require a layered approach, while in small countries there may be agreements for a specific vaccine or another depending on their needs.
US strategy will almost certainly evolve as states and localities identify various bottlenecks and determine their individual dose requirements. Pfizer’s vaccine, which requires ultra-fresh storage, could be sent to large health systems with more sophisticated capabilities like the mayo clinic.
Moderna, which comes with more conventional cooling requirements, can be easier to distribute in rural areas, according to health experts. So the location will almost certainly dictate which one you receive.
Last week, Moderna announced that it would increase its 2021 production quota for its COVID shot by 20% at 600 million doses, which would affect 300 million people worldwide since the product, like that of Pfizer, requires two doses. The United States is expected to have access to 200 million of these doses by June, according to the company.
Since January 11, only 25.4 million doses, including the two vaccines currently in use, had been distributed, and only about nine million people had actually received the first dose of a vaccine in the United States
The Centers for Disease (CDC) issued updated guidance on the issue on distribution strategies on January 7. A key element of the program is decidedly low-tech: a vaccination record or a printout that tells you what vaccine you have received and the date and place of the vaccine administration, along with an electronic copy. This would help to avoid mixtures between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
But, at the end of the day, the one you get will boil down to your zip code, local health care infrastructure, and the total number of doses available.
More health and Big Pharma coverage of Fortune:
- Vaccinating the world against COVID is getting off to a slow start. These companies think AI and blockchain could help
- Chronology: From the first cases of coronavirus to the first vaccinations
- It’s the new year, and pharmaceutical companies are already rising prices for popular drugs
- Comment: During the deployment of the COVID vaccine, our expectations do not correspond to reality
- The COVID recession can kill more Americans than COVID-19