Earlier this week, Pfizer launched a pilot delivery program for its vaccine candidate in four U.S. states in order to address distribution challenges the drug may have moving forward due to its ultra-cold storage requirements. The vaccine needed to be shipped and stored at -70 degrees Celsius (-94F), which is below the standard temperature for most vaccines, including its competitor Moderna
The vaccine distribution pilot will roll out in the U.S. states of New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas. The company chose these states based on their differences in size, populations, immunization infrastructure, and diverse urban and rural settings, according to Reuters. In theory, being able to meet the logistical distribution needs of these four states will give the drugmaker a blueprint to deliver the vaccine all throughout the U.S.
"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," Pfizer said in a statement on Monday, quoted by Reuters.
Beyond drugmaker distribution plans, the U.S. transition between current President Donald Trump and president-elect Joe Biden does not seem to be moving forward smoothly. Biden's coronavirus response team has been blocked from collaborating with the Trump administration's team at this time, prompting Biden's representatives to instead meet directly with pharmaceutical companies to workout a vaccine distribution plan, according to the Associated Press.
Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th U.S. president on January 20, 2021. Before and during the transition between presidential administrations, the U.S. is setting out to begin to distribute at least two vaccines as quickly as possible throughout the entire county.
"If we have to wait until Jan. 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind, over a month and a half," Biden stated during a press conference on Monday, quoted by CNBC. "And so, it's important that it be done, that there be coordination now."
"Many people may die if we don't coordinate," Biden continued. "How do we get over 300 million Americans vaccinated? What's the game plan? It's a huge, huge, huge undertaking."
The Trump administration's current plan to is provide enough coronavirus vaccine doses to all Americans that want to be vaccinated by the second quarter of 2021. Without a smooth transition between the current administration and the next, that timeline is likely to change.