4 News Now Q&A: What do we know about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine?

Your Questions Answered

Q: What do we know about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine? 

A: News of COVID-19 vaccine results from the drug-maker Pfizer gave the world some hope that we will soon have a potential way out of the pandemic. There are plenty of hurdles to clear, and many questions about production, distribution and most importantly, the effectiveness of the shot itself, still need to be answered.

First, some background.

Pfizer’s vaccine candidate is an MRNA — or a “Messenger RNA” — vaccine. It is a new technology that poses a major challenge for storage and transportation. It is also a type of vaccine that has never been approved for use by the FDA.

That has many people wondering what it is exactly, and how it produces an immune response.

To give us some insight, we turned to ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton.

“It is being aggressively researched and developed as a drug or a therapeutic approach, because most vaccines either give a live or weakened, or weakened, or attenuated form of the virus into our body so that our body can mount an immune system,” Dr. Ashton said. “This MRNA technology is giving a strand of the code so that our own cells can kind of generate an immune response without seeing the actual virus.”

Developing the vaccine is one thing.

Distributing it to all corners of the world is another.

And keeping it viable in that process is another challenge altogether.

But logistics firms like UPS, DHL and FedEx say they started planning for this months ago.

“We have about 9,000 health care specialists around the globe,” Oscar de Bok, DHL Supply Chain Chief Executive, said. “About 140 certified warehouses around the globe, about another 100 terminals that are certified for for health care. And we also had to make some specific investments in minus 80 degrees storage points and containers to be able to distribute.”

Other promising COVID-19 candidates are nearing the end of phase three trials, and they won’t all need sub-zero storage. They will, however, all need major logiticals support to distribute around the globe.

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