You’ve undoubtedly heard the fantastic news about a COVID vaccine, but how does it work exactly? Two shots are required, three weeks apart, and 90% is achieved seven days after the second dose. Further tests are needed, and the above figure might change as more data comes through, but scientists seem hopeful. However, there are more challenges to overcome before we pop the champagne bottles.
The logistical nightmare to get the vaccine around the world is going to take something extra special. The real issue, however, is that it must be stored at around -80°C and can only be removed up to 4 times from storage before either being used or discarded.
Pfizer, one of the companies that helped develop the vaccine, have distribution centres in the US, Germany and Belgium. Transport will be done by land and air, but more centres will be required as midway points before final delivery.
They’ve also developed boxes in which to store the vaccine at -70°C, with a capacity of up to 5,000 doses. Dry ice will be used to maintain the temperature, but the lack of carbon dioxide needed for such an operation could pose a threat.
What we also don’t know is the cost of these boxes (potentially thousands of euros) and the vaccine itself. Even if it’s free for citizens, it’s highly likely that it will have to be paid for in some other way.
What about Malta?
What we need to know is if there are enough cold storage facilities to house the vaccine for nation-wide use. Those most at risk will need to be the first to have access, and the rest of the population will follow after. Chris Fearne has said that Malta will begin receiving the vaccine within days of its release, so we’re hoping that storage won’t be an issue when it arrives.