Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Thursday outlined a number of “hiccups” that have surfaced during the distribution of Pfizer’s recently approved COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s going smoothly so far, but there will be hiccups,” Azar said on CNBC, discussing a “slight negative dropout” during the introduction of the vaccine.
“Gene. [Gustave] Perna said we had some shipments where the temperature dropped below the cold limit to minus 92, “said Azar.” We immediately saw that because of the tracking systems we have, the real-time registration. “
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Perna, Operation Warp Speed’s Chief Operating Officer, told reporters that several trays of vials delivered to Alabama and California had been returned to Pfizer because of the matter.
“We pulled those trays and we sent replacement trays immediately,” said Azar, adding how the Food and Drug Administration will work with Pfizer to determine whether “those excursions matter or if that product is still perfectly usable. “
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Nonetheless, Azar reiterated the comments that the complexity with Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine does not lie in the sub-zero storage requirements. He said hospitals are well equipped to manage storage requirements to keep up with the cold chain of the vaccines.
The first wave of vaccine distribution this week involved 5.9 million doses covering the US. If Moderna’s vaccine candidate receives emergency clearance from federal regulators later this week, officials say 6 million doses of Moderna vaccines could be rolled out Monday.
While federal officials recently announced an agreement for an additional 100 million doses of Moderna, for a total of 200 million, Azar said on Thursday that the government is optimistic that it will obtain “additional amounts” from Pfizer in the second quarter of 2021.
Meanwhile, the US has signed an agreement for 100 million doses of Pfizer through March 31, with an allocation of 20 million doses per month.
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