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Pfizer launching pilot vaccine delivery program in four states

Pfizer, which announced last week that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate was 90 percent effective in early trials, is starting a pilot program to deliver its experimental vaccine to four U.S. states. 

We are hopeful that results from this vaccine delivery pilot will serve as the model for other U.S. states and international governments, as they prepare to implement effective COVID-19 vaccine programs,” the company said in a statement on Monday.

The company chose Rhode Island, Texas, New Mexico and Tennessee to participate in its pilot program due to the states’ overall sizes, diversity of populations, immunization infrastructure and need to reach both urban and rural communities. 

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Pfizer added in its announcement that no state would be getting preferential treatment and each participating in the program will receive doses at the same time. 

Reuters noted that Pfizer’s vaccine must be shipped and stored at -70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit), significantly below the standard for vaccines of 2-8 degrees Celsius (36-46 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Pfizer has said that it will have the two months of safety data needed to apply for emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the third week of November. 

The pilot program launch came the same day Moderna said that its coronavirus vaccine candidate was 94.5 percent effective in an interim analysis. The drug development company added that it would apply for FDA approval “in the coming weeks,” once it has the final safety and efficacy data.

The Trump administration has entered contracts with both companies for 100 million doses of each vaccine, with the option to purchase more.

Moderna received $955 million from the U.S. government for development of its vaccine, unlike Pfizer, which did not receive development funds. Moderna was also given an additional roughly $1.5 billion to purchase the doses.

The companies are expected to prioritize delivering the vaccine to health care workers and other higher risk populations beginning in December, with experts saying that a vaccine will likely not be distributed to the general public until well into 2021.