Updated: November 17, 2020 06:11 PM
Created: November 17, 2020 05:06 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —With two promising COVID vaccines on the horizon, New Mexico will have a role in helping one of the vaccine pharmaceutical companies figure out the best way to distribute it when the time comes.
Last week, Pfizer announced its vaccine was showing a 90% efficacy rate seven days after the second dose.
New Mexico, along with three other states, will participate in Pfizer’s Immunization Pilot Program to refine the plan for delivery and deployment of the vaccine. Size, diversity, immunization infrastructure and rural communities were all factors that helped Pfizer select these states.
How the Pfizer vaccine needs to be handled is partly why the pilot program is necessary. The vaccines must be stored at extremely cold temperatures that are significantly below the standard for vaccines.
“Once they take it out of the ice, they can keep it five days in the normal fridge, so we have worked extensively to develop these distribution network, and they feel very good about this,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer.
New Mexico’s participation in the program, however, does not ensure that it will receive vaccine doses earlier than other states.
If the positive data continues, Pfizer expected to produce up to 50 million doses globally in 2020 and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
"However, there are enormous logistical challenges with those vaccines and the ability to do vaccinations on a large scale are several months away. That is not going to be helpful to us now,” said Dr. Rohini McKee, UNM Hospital Chief Quality and Safety Officer.
Until then, health experts said people should continue to wear masks, wash hands, and social distance to stop the spread of the virus.
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