BRASILIA (Reuters) – A senior Brazilian Health Ministry official said on Tuesday that the ideal vaccine to immunize the country against COVID-19 would be one that could be stored at temperatures of a regular refrigerator and does not require multiple doses.
“Ideally it would be made in a single dose,” said Health Surveillance Secretary Arnaldo Medeiros, although he recognized that was probably not possible.
Among the vaccines Brazil is considering for eventual purchase, the only single-dose option is the one being developed by Johnson & Johnson.
Medeiros, speaking at a ministry AIDS event, explained that Brazil’s cold chain lacks the ultra-frozen capacity of wealthier nations. That would rule out the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech SE, which needs to be transported and stored at -70 degrees Celsius and given in two doses about a month apart.
Pfizer has proposed building an extreme cold-storage chain using dry ice.
Moderna Inc’s two-dose vaccine uses a similar technology as Pfizer’s but can be stored at the more convenient temperature between 2 degrees and 8 degrees Celsius (36-46 F).
The Brazilian government has an agreement with British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc to buy and produce a vaccine it is developing with Oxford University. Their two-dose vaccine, which can be easily transported and stored at normal fridge temperatures, would be made in Brazil by the government’s Fiocruz biomedical center in Rio de Janeiro.
Sao Paulo state has a similar agreement with China’s Sinovac Biotech to buy and eventually produce its two-dose CoronaVac vaccine, which can remain stable for up to 3 years while stored at between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Bill Berkrot)