On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York's first Pfizer vaccine delivery is expected to come on December 15th, and will be enough doses for 170,000 New Yorkers. On Thursday, during a surprise late afternoon press conference, Cuomo broke out what he claimed was a real box of Pfizer vaccines to show off how they are packaged, and proceeded to do what can only be described as a gubernatorial version of a YouTube unboxing video.
Cuomo later admitted he wasn't holding a real vial of the vaccine during the unboxing—which based on what he was saying, likely would have been a waste of a vaccine—though it really was vaccine theater. "There is no vaccine in this vial. It is a vial, but it is without vaccine, but i didn't want to tell [him] that," Cuomo said in response to a question at the end of the presser.
As Cuomo demonstrated, the package contains a GPS tracking device and a thermal monitor to keep track of where the package is and make sure it stays at the right temperature. The vaccine comes wrapped in dry ice, which has to be replaced when it's received and then every five days after to keep it cold; the package can only be opened twice a day for 60-90 seconds at a time to ensure it stays at the right temperature. (The vaccine can also be taken out of the boxes and placed into ultra-cold storage.)
Underneath the dry ice is the actual package with the trays which have the vials of the vaccine. A vial contains enough for five dosages of the vaccine; one tray can hold up to 195 vials, and one package can hold up to five of those trays. So one box can hold around 4,875 doses altogether.
Once the vaccine is taken out of the box for use, the vial must thaw out at room temperature for about 30 minutes; then you dilute the vial and let it stand for about two hours; and then you have up to six hours during which you can administer the dosage.
"This is the weapon that is going to win the war, and that is the light at the end of the tunnel," Cuomo said. "It's not tomorrow, it's not a short tunnel, but we know the way through this. We just have to get there, and we have to get there with as little loss of life as possible."
Per CDC recommendations, New York's vaccination program will prioritize healthcare workers and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in phase one of distributing the vaccine. There are approximately 85,000 nursing home residents and 130,000 nursing home staff members in New York, so the first round of vaccines will not cover all of those people, but Cuomo hopes that a second round of vaccines later in the month will at least cover that entire group of 210,000+ people.
Both Pfizer and Moderna are awaiting emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
According to the latest state data, the overall daily positive state percent is at 4.84%, and the percent without microclusters factored in is 4.49%, both up from yesterday. The seven-day rolling average for the city is 3.3%, and that average for the state is at 4.12%.