The facade of Moderna, Inc. headquarters is seen, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in Cambridge, Mass. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine can now be shipped locally without requiring it to be frozen at all. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elise Amendola

The facade of Moderna, Inc. headquarters is seen, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in Cambridge, Mass. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine can now be shipped locally without requiring it to be frozen at all. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elise Amendola

Moderna ends frozen requirements for vaccine, easing logistics of shipping

OTTAWA — American biotech firm Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine can now be shipped locally without it needing to be frozen at all.

The messenger RNA vaccine from the Massachusetts-based company is on the verge of being authorized for use in Canada and could be approved for use in the United States as early as today.

Until now, it was believed the vaccine had to remain frozen to at least -20 C until shortly before use, but the company says it can now safely transport liquid doses as refrigerated at between 2 C and 8 C.

A Moderna spokeswoman says this makes the logistics easier of getting the vaccine to remote locations.

Moderna was already considered less risky to ship than a similar vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech, which must be kept frozen between -60 C and -80 C, and Canada is planning to send it to the territories, remote Indigenous communities and for use at long-term care homes.

Health Canada’s review team is still waiting for final data on Moderna’s manufacturing process before making its decision but the company plans to start shipping the first 168,000 doses within 48 hours of getting the green light.

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