Pfizer to start COVID-19 immunization pilot program in four U.S. states

(Reuters) - Pfizer Inc said on Monday it was starting a pilot program for COVID-19 immunization in four U.S. states to help refine the plan for the delivery and deployment of its vaccine candidate.

The U.S. drugmaker said it had selected Rhode Island, Texas, New Mexico, and Tennessee for the program because of their differences in overall size, diversity of populations and immunization infrastructure, as well as the states' need to reach individuals in varied urban and rural settings.

"The four states included in this pilot program will not receive vaccine doses earlier than other states by virtue of this pilot, nor will they receive any differential consideration," Pfizer said in a statement.

Pfizer last Monday released initial data on its vaccine developed with German partner BioNTech SE that showed it to be more than 90% effective.

Earlier on Monday, rival Moderna Inc said its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, boosting hopes that vaccines against the disease may be ready for use soon.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a new technology called synthetic messenger RNA to activate the immune system against the virus.

Experts have raised concerns about the distribution challenges associated with Pfizer's vaccine due to its specialized storage requirements.

(Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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