French pharmaceutical Sanofi has announced that its Covid-19 vaccine will be able to be stored in a fridge and will not require extreme sub-zero temperatures, unlike the headline-grabbing candidate from Pfizer.
"Our vaccine will be like the flu vaccine, you can keep it in your refrigerator," Sanofi France chief Olivier Bogillot told CNews channel on Sunday. "This will be an advantage for some countries."
Sanofi’s comments came days after American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced that their vaccine had proven 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 infections.
The vaccine developed by Pfizer is racing ahead with Phase 3 trials, but requires very low temperatures (-70°C) to be stored, well beyond the capability of most hospital freezers let alone domestic appliances.
Rachel Silverman, a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, has already warned that maintaining the Pfizer vaccine's "ultra-cold chain" from factory to patients' arms constitutes "an enormous logistical challenge even in the West".
The Sanofi vaccine, one of many in development, will be available for distribution next June, Bogillot added.
'We will need several winners'
The results of the Phase 2 tests, involving hundreds of people, will be made public in early December. If those results are positive then Phase 3 trials involving thousands of people will begin, alongside mass production.
Eleven of the vaccines under development have already begun Phase 3 trials.
The Pfizer candidate is "a little more advanced" in the development process, said Bogillot, but one laboratory is not going to be able to supply the doses for the whole planet.
"We will need to have several winners at the end of this race," he said.
The Sanofi product will also be made available at an "affordable" price Bogillot added, without giving details.
Sanofi's announcements occur while past surveys have found the French are among the most reticent about vaccination.
In a poll published last week, 50 percent of French people say they intend to be inoculated with the vaccine if it is soon widely deployed in the country.
60 percent of those questioned are opposed to making it compulsory.