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A company that provides logistics services for the life sciences industry is already distributing a major COVID-19 vaccine candidate for a clinical trial, and hopes to play a role in the rollout of a successful vaccine.  

Cryoport, which relocated its headquarters to Brentwood earlier this year, is providing logistics support for 26 clinical trials related to COVID-19, including a leading vaccine candidate.  

Cryoport Systems CEO Mark Sawicki said the company isn’t disclosing which vaccine it’s working on, but said it’s one of the “big six” that are currently in large scale trials. 

“As the development and distribution landscape for potential COVID-19 vaccines and treatments is still developing, we do not yet know the roles we may play,” Cryoport, Inc. CEO Jerrell Shelton said, according to a press release.  “However, in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we are highly confident that we will be a part of the global solution.”

Cryoport recently acquired two companies—MVE Biological Solutions and CRYOPDP—to bulk up its capacity to ship materials at low temperatures. The main goal of those acquisitions was to make the company more competitive in the gene therapy market, which is the bulk of its business.

However, that additional capacity should also help the company distribute a coronavirus vaccine. In a press release, the company noted that MVE has already received orders for storing pandemic related materials. 

Earlier this week, Pfizer and BioNTech, which is developing one of the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates, announced in a news release that an initial analysis of results from a clinical trial showed the vaccine was more than 90% effective. 

The companies claim they are on track to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of the vaccine around the third week of November. 

The results are only an initial analysis, but the results are promising. The next challenge will be distributing hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine across the world at negative 70 degrees celsius. 

While Cryoport isn’t disclosing the vaccine trial that it’s currently supporting, Sawicki said the company’s goal is to play a role in as many programs as possible.

Of all the major vaccine candidates, Sawicki said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be the hardest to store and distribute because it requires dry ice. 

Pfizer experts to ship the vaccines in reusable containers of 975 doses each. The packages will need to be refilled with dry ice every five days, and can be refilled up to three times.

“The real issue is the supply of dry ice,” Sawicki said. “They anticipate shortages, which will create limitations on distribution.”

Sawicki added that getting the reusable containers back after delivering the vaccines will also be a significant challenge. 

Other vaccine candidates may be easier to ship and store. According to the Centers for Disease Control, other products would only require refrigeration temperatures or more moderate freezing temperatures. Cryoport has the capability to transport products from room temperature to cryogenic temperatures. 

While Cryoport is hoping to support the effort to distribute a coronavirus vaccine over the next year, the true goal is getting back to its core business of providing logistics support for reproductive medicine, animal health products and biopharma.  

The company is currently supporting hundreds of clinical trials, but the real payoff comes if the drugs in those clinical trials are approved for general use.

“We are positioned better than ever to support the anticipated dozens of commercial therapies around the globe, which we believe will be the driving force behind our revenue growth over the next five to 10 years,” Shelton said, according to a press release. 

The company reported a loss of $11.4 million in the third quarter of 2020, compared to a $12.5 million loss in the same quarter last year. However, revenue was up by about 17% year over year.  

Cryoport’s stock price has jumped 28% since it released financial results last week. The stock price got a major boost over the weekend when the results of the presidential election became clear. Cryoport’s stock, along with many other parts of the market, continued to rise after Pfizer and BioNTech released the initial efficacy results for its vaccine. 

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