Berlin – Germany’s coronavirus vaccination campaign faced delays in several cities on Sunday after medical staff found potential irregularities in the cooling of the shot produced by BioNTech and Pfizer.
The European Union launched a mads Covid-19 vaccination drive on Sunday with pensioners and medics lining up to get the first shots to see a pandemic that has crippled economies and claimed more than 1.7 million lives worldwide.
“When reading the temperature loggers that were enclosed in the cool boxes, doubts arose about the compliance with the cold chain requirements”, said the District Office of Lichtenfels in the north of Germany’s largest state Bavaria in a statement.
The Pfizer vaccine, which uses new so-called mRNA technology, must be stored at ultra-low temperatures of about -70 degrees Celsius (-112 degrees F) to remain effective before being shipped to distribution centres.
Pfizer has designed special shipping containers filled with dry ice to keep the vaccine from spoiling while in transit. Shots can be kept in an ultra-low temperature freezer for up to six months, or for five days at 2C to 8C – a type of refrigeration commonly available at hospitals.
Besides Lichtenfels, the northern Bavarian cities of Coburg, Kronach, Kulmbach, Hof, Bayreuth and Wunsiedel also held off from inoculating people after uncertainty arose about whether the cold chain had been maintained.
“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 Baerm district administrator of the district of Hof.