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Drugmaker Pfizer announced on Monday it would test distribution of its coronavirus vaccine candidate in four US states: Rhode Island, Texas, New Mexico, and Tennessee.

Pfizer said last week that preliminary data indicated its experimental vaccine is more than 90% effective in preventing symptomatic infections in people. The company still has to gather more data before it can apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for the vaccine.

Temperature testing: A key part of this testing will gauge how hard it is to deal with a product that has to be kept at temperatures well below the capacity of standard freezers.

State and local health officials, hospital representatives and others have expressed concern about the difficulty of distributing a fragile vaccine that needs constant, ultra-cold refrigeration. Careful records will also have to be kept, to ensure that everyone who gets the vaccine receives two doses, spaced three weeks apart.

The four states: “To build on our coordination with the relevant U.S. agencies, Pfizer launched this pilot program to help better support the states’ planning, deployment, and administration of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate,” the company said in a statement.

It did not say what, precisely, would happen in the pilot program but said it would learn from the scheme to help create plans for other states. 

The four states were selected because of their differences in size, population diversity, and their varied urban and rural settings, Pfizer said.

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