As demand decreases, how long can these vaccine vials last on the shelf?


RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – With demand for COVID-19 vaccines declining in North Carolina and across the country, at least the thousands of unused doses are unlikely to spoil quickly – as long as they are properly stored.

“I’m not worried that this will go wrong,” said Dr. David Weber of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Of the three vaccines currently cleared for emergency use, the single-injection Johnson & Johnson product has the longest shelf life, with the company saying it can be stored for two years if stored at less than -4 years. degrees – or about the temperature of an average home freezer.

Two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can each last six months if stored properly. While the Moderna vaccine can also be stored at minus -4 degrees, Pfizer’s requires much lower temperatures – an ultra-cold -158 degrees.

“Of course, J&J and the federal government don’t send more vaccines than people need,” Weber said. “So it’s not like we have to look for a freezer space for more and more vaccines that we don’t know we have enough people who want them. … It will last a long time. “

This question arose because of the massive drop in demand for vaccines.

The number of people across North Carolina receiving their first dose has steadily declined each week for the past month, from nearly 250,000 in the first week of April to just 36,799 last week.

To put it in context, everyone in the state that got their first shot last week would fit comfortably into the 58,000-seat Carter-Finley Stadium – with around 20,000 seats still empty.

A total of 13 counties each gave their first blows to less than 50 people last week – with just 17 in Swain County and 18 in Alleghany and Camden counties.

But Weber says he’s not surprised at the sudden drop in demand. He says that a consistent share of around 20 percent of people participating in surveys insisted they would not get the vaccine.

“We end up with about 20 percent, which hasn’t changed at all in months, we’re just opposed,” Weber said. “And a smaller number at this point saying, ‘I still want more information.’ So we exhausted the people who really wanted it. And it doesn’t surprise me he fell that way.

If demand continues to decline and unused vaccine vials continue to add up, Weber says the best use for them would be to redistribute those doses to places around the world that still need them and still need them.

“I think what we need to do is take this vaccine and make it available in areas of the world (which) don’t have access to the vaccine,” Weber said. “Not only is this a good Samaritan for the rest of the world, but it helps us because everyone who receives (COVID-19) is a small incubator to develop a new variant that could be more infectious or deadly. And the more we can reduce risk everywhere else in the world, it helps us. “

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