CORRECT UPDATE 3-Cold Chain Doubts Delay COVID-19 Vaccinations in Some German Cities

(Improve the BioNtech spokesperson, not Pfizer, paragraphs 4-5)

FRANKFURT, December 27 (Reuters) – Germany’s vaccination campaign against coronavirus experienced delays in several cities on Sunday after temperature detectors showed that about 1,000 of the shots made by BioNTech and Pfizer may not have been kept cold enough during transport.

“When reading the temperature registers contained in the coolers, doubts arose about compliance with the cooling chain requirements,” the district of Lichtenfels in the north of Germany’s largest state, Bavaria, said in a statement.

A spokesman for Lichtenfels said the temperature in one refrigerator for vaccine had risen to 15 degrees Celsius, above the maximum of 8C set by the manufacturers. He added that his district has not yet received advice from BioNtech on how to proceed.

BioNtech said in a statement that it was responsible for the shipment to the 25 German distribution centers and that the federal states and local authorities were responsible for the shipment to the vaccination centers and the mobile vaccination teams.

‘This is where the variations in temperature occurred. We are in contact with many authorities for advice, but it depends on them how to proceed, ”said a BioNTech spokesperson.

In a December submission, BioNtech said the vaccine, once removed from the freezer, can be stored for up to five days at 2-8C and up to two hours at temperatures up to 30C before use.

The vaccine, which uses new so-called mRNA technology, must be stored at ultra-low temperatures of about -70 degrees Celsius (-112 ° F) before being sent to distribution centers in specially designed coolers filled with dry ice.

Once the ultra-low temperature is stored, the vaccine should be kept at 2C to 8C to remain effective for up to five days. The coolers designed by Pfizer are equipped with GPS trackers so that businesses can deal with possible storage problems along the way.

The Lichtenfels spokesperson said that 1000 shots had been hit by the temperature issue and that the city and the districts of Coburg, Kronach, Kulmbach, Hof, Bayreuth and Wunsiedel in northern Bavaria were waiting to hear from BioNTech if the vaccine could still be used. . .

“Vaccination against the coronavirus is not about who vaccinates the fastest or who does the most doses. Safety and conscientious work for the benefit of the population has the highest priority, ”said Oliver Baer, ​​district administrator in Court.

The European Union on Sunday launched a massive COVID-19 vaccination drive with retirees and medics queuing to get the first shots at a pandemic that has crippled economies and claimed more than 1.7 million lives worldwide has, to see.

The delays in Germany highlight the challenge of launching the vaccine while regulators are investigating other shots, including those made by Moderna and AstraZeneca, that can be transported and stored more easily.

The launch of the Pfizer vaccine in the United States has called into question the government’s target of 20 million vaccinations this month, as hospitals followed up to prepare the previously frozen shots for use, found staff to run clinics and proper social distance to ensure.

In Germany, similar temperature problems also delayed the start of the vaccination campaign in the southern Bavarian districts of Augsburg and Dillingen, where staff eventually got approval from BioNTech to use the shots.

Germany’s vaccination campaign officially began on Sunday when residents of parental homes were cared for. The federal government plans to distribute more than 1.3 million doses to local health authorities by the end of this year, and by January about 700,000 a week. (Additional reporting by Josephine Mason; editing by David Clarke and Nick Macfie)