Above: Excerpts from randomly-selected refrigerator manuals. I think this correctly illustrates typical freezer temperatures achievable by readily-available refrigeration equipment.
Previously, on The US Vaccine Saga. The Federal government anointed Moderna to produce American’s Vaccine, in what appears to be an act of classic crony capitalism (outlined briefly in Post #776)
The story continues …
Sometimes I’ll read something and it’s like my brain gets a slap in the face. I just instantly say, that has to be bullshit. I had one of those today. And, surprise surprise, it give me yet another reason to avoid the US COVID-19 vaccine.
What set me off is this article in MarketWatch. Background: Two of the leading vaccine candidates are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. Messenger RNA is the substances that your DNA uses to run your cells. It takes the message from your DNA, and transmits it to the actual working parts of your cells. The plan is to give some of your cells an artificial message. In this case, the message is, produce (EDIT: a protein that will stimulation production of antibodies to a key COVID-19 surface protein. In a nutshell, the plan is to inject you with micro-globules of this mRNA, and basically talk some of your own cells into producing a key protein that will get your body to produce the relevant antibodies.
Putting aside that this has never worked before, for a human vaccine, here’s today’s key reveal.
These mRNA vaccines have to be kept cool before they are used. There are two companies producing an mRNA vaccine. One company says that it must be stored at -94F or lower. The other says it must be stored at -4F or lower.
That’s a pretty big difference, given that it’s basically the same genetic material in both vaccines. With an important practical impact.
The -94F requirement makes distributing such a vaccine almost impossible, practically speaking. Almost nobody outside of tertiary care hospitals would have a freezer capable of doing that. Shipping it would require specialized containers and expedited handling. (N.B., that is plausibly achievable with extreme insulation and dry ice, which sublimes around -109F). In short, distributing 300 million doses of that would be a logistical nightmare.
But, by the merest of coincidences, the -4F temperature can be achieved by any regular fridge of freezer. Barely. Just by dialing it down to the bottom of the available temperature range. (The limitation there, by the way, is the thermostat setting, not the refrigeration equipment. Manufacturers just don’t build in the ability to set the freezer much colder than that.)
Same key substance in both, mRNA. But As a matter of great good luck, somehow, the mRNA in one of the vaccines seems to respect the limits of standard appliance manufacturing. While the other one does not.
Now see if you can match the manufacturer to the proposed storage temperature.
One manufacturer is one of the world’s oldest and largest drug companies, with a sterling reputation, and more than $50B in annual revenues. They have, I believe, pledged to produce and distribute their vaccine on a not-for-profit basis.
The other manufacture (profiled briefly in Post #776) is under a decade old, has never successfully produced a vaccine, is of questionable financial viability, intends to make significant profits by selling its vaccine at two to three times the cost of competitors’ vaccines. It’s already counting on the revenues from vaccine sales, and the profits from this vaccine appear to be critical to the survival of the company.
If you guessed that the drug giant Pfizer says -94F, and the US crony-capitalist Moderna says -4F, then you guessed correctly.
The US vaccine effort seems to be a story that just won’t quit. From having a (just recently former) Moderna board member put in charge of selecting the company to head the US effort. (Surprise, Moderna was chosen.) To picking a company with an unbroken record of failure. To betting on a technique that has never been used, anywhere, to produce a vaccine for human use. To picking a company that’s violating somebody else’s patent. And so on.
And now, to this little 90F discrepancy in the temperature required to preserve the vaccine prior to use. I’m seeing this as yet another reason that the Moderna vaccine is the last thing I’ll consider. If they ever succeed in producing it.
Addendum: Really, it just won’t quit. Now it turns out that Moderna was suckling at the Federal teat, and illegally failing to disclose that, for some years now. See this Washington Post article published today (8/28/2020). Seems like the primary reason they’re in business is the largess of the taxpayer. Only, they completely — and illegally — failed to disclose that.