Cold chain doubts delay COVID-19 vaccinations in some German cities

By Arno Schuetze FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's coronavirus vaccination campaign faced delays in several cities on Sunday after temperature trackers showed that about 1,000 of the shots made by BioNTech and Pfizer may not have been kept cold enough during transit. 'When reading the temperature loggers that were enclosed in the cool boxes, doubts arose about the compliance with the cold chain requirements,' the district of Lichtenfels in the north of Germany's largest state Bavaria said in a statement. Medical staff found that the temperature in one vaccine transport cool box had risen to 15 degrees Celsius, a spokesman for Lichtenfels said, above the maximum of 8C stipulated by the manufacturers

Reuters December 28, 2020 00:11:40 IST
Cold chain doubts delay COVID-19 vaccinations in some German cities

Cold chain doubts delay COVID19 vaccinations in some German cities

By Arno Schuetze

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's coronavirus vaccination campaign faced delays in several cities on Sunday after temperature trackers showed that about 1,000 of the shots made by BioNTech and Pfizer may not have been kept cold enough during transit.

"When reading the temperature loggers that were enclosed in the cool boxes, doubts arose about the compliance with the cold chain requirements," the district of Lichtenfels in the north of Germany's largest state Bavaria said in a statement.

Medical staff found that the temperature in one vaccine transport cool box had risen to 15 degrees Celsius, a spokesman for Lichtenfels said, above the maximum of 8C stipulated by the manufacturers.

BioNTech said it had responded to queries from the districts on whether the shots could still be used but declined to specify what it had told them. Pfizer referred Reuters to its German partner for comment.

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 shipped to distribution centres in specially designed cool boxes filled with dry ice.

Once out of ultra-low temperature storage, the vaccine must be kept at 2C to 8C to remain effective for up to five days. The cool boxes designed by Pfizer are fitted with GPS trackers so the companies can deal with potential storage issues en route.

The spokesman for Lichtenfels said 1,000 shots had been affected 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 about whether 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 Hof.

The European Union launched a mass COVID-19 vaccination drive on Sunday with pensioners and medics lining up to get the first shots to see off a pandemic that has crippled economies and claimed more than 1.7 million lives worldwide.

The delays in Germany highlight the challenge in rolling out the vaccine while regulators review for approval other shots, including those made by Moderna and AstraZeneca, which are easier to transport and store.

The roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine in the United States has been slow putting the government's target of 20 million vaccinations this month in doubt, as hospitals have navigated preparing the previously frozen shots for use, finding staff to run clinics and ensuring proper social distancing.

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

Germany's vaccination campaign officially kicked off on Sunday with residents of elderly care homes being inoculated. The federal government is planning to distribute more than 1.3 million doses to local health authorities by the end of this year and about 700,000 per week from January.

(Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by David Clarke)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.