Distribution of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is possible with the right tools, WHO official says

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(CNN) - With the right tools, distribution of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine – which requires ultra-cold storage – is possible, but people may need to be strategic about where they allocate those resources, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said Friday.

“There is demonstrated experience of delivering ultra-cold chain vaccines, even in some of the most difficult and remote areas,” said Katherine O’Brien, director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO.

The task does require enormous resources, and people may need to use a targeted distribution approach, O’Brien said during a news briefing in Geneva.

“Part of the approach that many countries may take is to choose to use vaccines that require an ultra-cold chain for only certain portions of the population that need to be vaccinated,” she added.

O’Brien said some may choose to use the vaccine among health care workers, in facilities where installing an ultra-cold freezer may be more simple than in other settings.

“Every country is going to have to work very hard and is going to have to innovate around systems to actually deliver vaccines that do have an ultra-cold chain,” O’Brien added, citing solutions like portable freezers and dry ice.

O’Brien noted that Pfizer has developed special thermal shippers to transport the vaccines, which can maintain the temperature of the vaccines for about 10 to 15 days.

“The intention is certainly to be able to use it, along with other vaccines because no one vaccine is going to have adequate supply, nor will any one vaccine necessarily have suitable operational characteristics to meet all of the needs,” she said.

Remember: Pfizer and BioNTech submitted on Nov. 20 to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for their coronavirus vaccine candidate.

Emergency use authorization, or EUA, from the FDA is not the same as full approval. An EUA allows products to be used under particular circumstances before all the evidence is available for approval.

The FDA intends to make a decision about authorizing Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine within a few weeks of a key meeting scheduled for Dec. 10, according to an agency official.

This story was first published on CNN.com, "Distribution of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is possible with the right tools, WHO official says"