Pfizer-BioNTech has designed its own packaging to keep doses super cold with dry ice. The packaging has been informally nicknamed „the pizza box”.
But in one town in southeast Romania, some vaccines actually arrived Tuesday at a hospital in a pizza box, the hospital confirmed.
The Slobozia Emergency County Hospital planned to roll out its vaccine campaign on Tuesday, inoculating 50 health professionals.
The vaccines which were scheduled to arrive at 10am were delayed by two hours due to distribution problems with the Cantacuzino Institute in Bucharest, 130 kilometers away
When the Pfizer jabs finally arrived, local reporters were surprised to find they were stored in pizza boxes, independentonline.ro reported.
In Bucharest, Valeriu Gheorghita, the military doctor who is at the helm of Romania’s vaccine campaign, was asked about the situation after images of the vaccine being taken out of a pizza box were published.
“The boxes have 195 vials, and it’s just a coincidence that it looks very much like a pizza box,” he said. He said each packet has five boxes, which is approximately 5,000 doses.
He added that cardboard boxes didn’t present risks to transporting the virus. “What’s important is that the ‘cold chain’ is respected. They aren’t transported in cardboard boxes as such but in refrigerated boxes where the temperature is permanently monitored.
The Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept extremely cold: minus 70 degrees Celsius.
Hospital managers looked into the situation and confirmed some vaccines had been delivered in a pizza box, adding the facility “decisively distanced itself” from the packaging. They said the the delivery, logistics and transport of the vaccine were provided by a third party.
“The vaccines were delivered in the respective boxes, which were stored in professional refrigerated boxes. The vaccines were sent like this from Bucharest.”
It said the hospital began its vaccine campaign on Tuesday and inoculated 50 healthcare professionals “without any adverse effects reported,” so far.