Critical Component of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Cold Chain
Governor Cuomo: The vaccine "is the weapon that is going to win the war, and that is the light at the end of the tunnel, right? So, it's not tomorrow, it's not a short tunnel, but we know the way through this. We just have to get there, and we have to get there with as little as loss of life as possible."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo displayed a COVID-19 vaccine cold storage box.
AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
This is a box of vaccines. Pfizer, which is a great New York company, made the vaccine. Pfizer developed the vaccine without any assistance from the federal government. They did it all on their own, and we're very proud to call them a New York company. The vaccine process is a complicated process, and the distribution is going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort. The package itself comes with a Geo tracker GPS tracking device that can track the program, and a thermal monitor so it monitors the temperature of the package. You want to know where the package is and the package has to stay at the right temperature, because if it doesn't then the vaccine is destroyed.
It comes wrapped in dry ice. The dry ice because it has to be ultra-cold. When you receive the package, you have to replace the dry ice and then you have to replace the dry ice every five days. Under the dry ice is the actual package that has the trays in it. The trays have the actual vials in it. By the way, the vials are made of glass from Corning Glass, another great New York company. A vial contains enough for five dosages. The vial comes with a diluting liquid and the actual vial gets diluted before the vaccination actually happens. One tray, they call this a tray, one tray can hold up to 195 vials. Each vial, this is a vial, can do 5 dosages. The package itself can hold 5 trays. So, roughly 5,000 dosages could be in this one box.
The storage and handling of the box itself is complicated. You can only open the box two times a day for 60 to 90 seconds each time, because keeping it the right temperature is very important. So, it's either in ultra-cold storage, or it has dry ice, but then you can only open it twice a day for 60 seconds to 90 seconds each time. When you actually do the vaccine, you take out the vial. The vial is frozen. You have to allow the vial to thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes. You then dilute the vial and let it stand for 2 hours, and then you have 6 hours to administer the dosage, okay? So this is a complicated procedure. That's one dosage and then the person has to come back and receive the second dosage about 21 days later.
So, the package comes; it either has to be stored in ultra-cold storage or the dry ice is replaced and the dry ice can keep it. Up to 5,000 dosages, per vial and then there's a procedure to de-thaw the vial, dilute the dosage and then administer the dosage within 6 hours thereafter. And it's one dosage, second dosage is 21 days later, and the vaccine is really isn't effective until after the second dosage. So, it's not easy, but it's real and they're being manufactured, and they're going to be shipped, and we're very proud of Pfizer, we're very proud of Corning, and we are working very hard to be ready for the distribution and training people on the distribution to make sure it's all done correctly. But, this is the weapon that is going to win the war, and that is the light at the end of the tunnel, right? So, it's not tomorrow, it's not a short tunnel, but we know the way through this. We just have to get there, and we have to get there with as little as loss of life as possible.