Solar fridges and powdered vaccines: How to get a COVID-19 vaccine to the developing world

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UNICEF is building a global network of fridges and cold rooms—the cold chain—to make sure a vaccine stays effective as it’s transported to rural communities off the grid. When a COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use, one of the next major challenges will be logistical: How do you distribute billions of doses around the planet, including to remote corners of the world that lack reliable electricity, when the vaccine has to stay refrigerated to be effective? Read Full Story

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This Swedish startup is making powdered vaccines that don’t need to be kept cold

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Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine needs to be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. A powdered vaccine wouldn’t need refrigeration at all. When Pfizer’s new COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use—which might happen as soon as December—it’s not going to show up at your local pharmacy. That’s partly because it needs to stay incredibly cold to work: It must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, far colder than is possible in an ordinary freezer. In the developing world, even vaccines that can be stored in refrigerators present a huge logistical challenge . A Swedish startup is working on an alternative: technology that can convert any vaccine to a powdered version that can survive without refrigeration. Read Full Story

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These drones will deliver the COVID-19 vaccine so it stays cold

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How do you get the vaccine to remote clinics while it’s still frozen? Fly it there. For a remote health clinic—whether in Africa or in a rural part of the U.S.—one of the challenges presented by the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines is their temperature requirements: The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. The ultra-cold freezers needed to store them cost $10,000 or more, and storing the vaccines in dry ice is logistically complicated. Moderna’s vaccine doesn’t have to be quite as cold but still needs to be frozen until it’s ready for use. Getting the vaccines to remote locations quickly, therefore, is key. To do that, some vaccines will soon begin to be delivered to locations by drone. Read Full Story

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Is the explosion of COVID-19 conspiracies changing people’s real-world behavior?

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More than 20 million people saw a video filled with lies about COVID-19. Researchers still don’t know how this kind of viral misinformation is impacting people’s willingness to wear masks—or to get an eventual vaccine. On Monday night, Breitbart News launched a video of a press conference from a group of physicians called America’s Frontline Doctors, wherein several doctors repeated inaccurate claims about COVID-19, its treatments, and effects. The video reached over 20 million viewers on Facebook alone before being taken down Tuesday. The fast spread of this video and its false claims raises a big question about how much this kind of information affects people’s decisions to stay home, wear a mask, and ultimately, to get vaccinated when a COVID-19 vaccine is approved. Read Full Story

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UNICEF is stockpiling half a billion syringes to get ready for a COVID-19 vaccine

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Developing the vaccine is just the first part of the mission. Then a vast production and logistical challenge awaits. UNICEF is getting ready. Inside a warehouse in Copenhagen and another in Dubai, UNICEF is racing to stockpile hundreds of millions of syringes. It’s the other half of the long path to an effective COVID-19 vaccine: As some pharmaceutical companies reach the final stages of vaccine trials, the UN agency is working on the logistical challenge of how to quickly deliver those vaccines around the world as soon as they’re approved. Read Full Story

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COVID-19 vaccine trials are being undermined by a lack of diversity

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To make sure a vaccine works for everyone, everyone needs to be in the trials. At least 10 COVID-19 vaccines are currently in the final phase of their trials, where the vaccine is given to thousands of people to test its safety and efficacy. But as the quest for a coronavirus vaccine continues, experts say there’s still an issue with how diverse these trials are, which could impact how effective a vaccine is for everyone. Read Full Story

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How will you actually know when it’s your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

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When and how you’ll be notified about your place in the vaccine line—and how proactive you’ll have to be in finding the information—will depend heavily on the state and city you live in. The Onion recently satirized the disjointed nature of information around the vaccine rollout, suggesting that the best shot at staying informed is to cobble together information from Twitter accounts of “reporters, medical researchers, and politically engaged musicians… [and a] Tacoma-area mom who shares screenshots of vital information.” Read Full Story

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