Gov. Cuomo showcases process for packing, shipping COVID-19 vaccine
Gov. Andrew Cuomo showed New Yorkers the process for packing and shipping the coronavirus vaccine Thursday - and it's anything but easy.
Cuomo interrupted his daily COVID-19 briefing with a little show-and-tell for two reasons. He bragged about the fact that Rockland's Pfizer is a New York company, and he also highlighted just how complicated the process will be to vaccinate people once it's approved.
The demonstration also gave people an idea about how delicate the vaccine is. It's packed in a geotracked box with dry ice to keep it at -70 degrees Celsius. It either has to be cold stored or the dry ice must be replaced every five days. The box can only be opened no more than twice a day for less than 90 seconds.
Once the vials are ready for use, they have to be thawed at room temperature. It's then diluted in a process that takes two hours, and then the vaccine must be administered in six hours.
People must come back three weeks later for a second dose.
The governor emphasized that "this is the weapon that's going to win the war and that's the light at the end of the tunnel."
"It's not a short tunnel, he said. "It's not tomorrow, but we know the way through this, we just have to get there."
The box that Gov. Cuomo featured contains about 1,000 vials inside, and each vial has five doses, so each box has about 5,000 doses.
A concern the governor has is not only setting up a safe and efficient way to administer those doses, but also convincing the public to take them.
As health officials stress, vaccines don't save lives - vaccinations save lives. That process could start in less than two weeks.