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Solving COVID

Moderna's potential COVID-19 vaccine has a key advantage over Pfizer

There seems to be an understanding among companies developing coronavirus vaccines that the more candidates that are proven safe and effective, the better. But that doesn't mean the options won't be compared to each other, and it looks like Moderna — which on Monday announced its late-stage trial found its vaccine to be nearly 95 percent effective — has a key advantage over Pfizer.

Yes, Moderna's numbers are a little better and the data released were more comprehensive, but Pfizer's 90 percent rate still squashed expectations and is considered very promising. Where Moderna really seems to have a leg up is on the distribution front. Should Moderna get Food and Drug Administration approval in the United States, as well as the green light elsewhere, it will likely be easier to store than Pfizer's vaccine, which requires ultra-cold freezers to maintain stability. Moderna's candidate, meanwhile, "can be distributed using existing cold-chain shipping and storage infrastructure," Reuters reports, and can remain stable in a regular refrigerator for as long as 30 days, exceeding expectations.

This would be particularly beneficial for rural areas and other places that will face logistical challenges if and when large-scale distribution occurs. Tim O'Donnell