U.S. quarantines on Pfizer vaccine shipments in California and Alabama following a transit anomaly left vials too chilly

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine is pictured at Rady Children's Hospital before being returned to the refrigerator on December 15, 2020 in San Diego, California.

Adriana Drehsler | AFP | Getty Images

US officials said Wednesday they quarantined several thousand doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine in California and Alabama this week after an "anomaly" in the transportation process caused the storage temperature to become too cold.

The Pfizer vaccine, which was developed with the German drug manufacturer BioNTech, requires a storage temperature of around minus 70 degrees Celsius. Vials of the vaccine are kept in bowls, each containing at least 975 doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

General Gustave Perna, who oversees the logistics for President Donald Trump's Operation Warp Speed ​​vaccination program, told reporters that two vaccine trays that arrived at two different locations in California had to be returned to Pfizer after the temperature somehow dropped to minus 92 Degrees Celsius had fallen.

The vaccine "never left the truck," he said during a press conference Wednesday. "We immediately returned and mailed them to Pfizer to replace these two trays. We are now working with the FDA, CDC, FDA and Pfizer to determine whether or not this anomaly is safe, but we are not taking any chances one and we can see that. "

He said the "anomaly" had recurred in Alabama.

"Across the country in Alabama, two trays came in at one location. The same anomaly was minus 92. We were able to stop and quarantine the vaccine, pause and get a replacement shipment to Alabama." he said.

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