CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The CEO of Atrium Health in North Carolina said he anticipates the hospital system will be chosen as an “early site” to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc.
Atrium Health CEO Gene Woods said at a board meeting Tuesday that they’ve already purchased refrigeration units that could store 300,000 doses, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Refrigeration is necessary since the Pfizer vaccine, which the company says has 90% effectiveness based on early and incomplete test results, needs to be kept at low temperatures. Woods did not say how much money they cost.
Pfizer, which is developing the vaccine with its German partner BioNTech, now is on track to apply later this month for emergency-use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, once it has the necessary safety information in hand.
Even if all goes well, authorities have stressed it is unlikely any vaccine will arrive much before the end of the year, and the limited initial supplies will be rationed. Pfizer has estimated it could have 50 million doses available globally by the end of 2020, enough for 25 million people.
The Charlotte-based Atrium Health has taken a financial hit this year as it responded to the virus outbreak, initially postponing many non-essential surgeries to conserve resources. On Tuesday, they reported an operating income of $22 million for the first nine months of the year, compared to an budgeted income of $177 million.
“This has been a year like no other,” Woods said.