The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized unopened, thawed Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine vials to be stored in a refrigerator at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for up to one month. The vials were previously allowed to be kept at such temperatures for five days only.
The change should make the vaccine more widely available to the American public by facilitating the ability of vaccine providers, such as community doctors’ offices, to receive, store and administer the vaccine, the FDA said in a statement.
The latest decision was based on assessment of additional stability study data submitted to FDA by the Pfizer.
Meanwhile, European Medicines Agency or EMA said earlier this week that Comirnaty, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, can have more flexible storage conditions, including up to one month in a normal fridge.
The EMA said the change extends the approved storage period of the unopened thawed vial at 2-8°C, i.e. in a normal fridge after taking out of deep-freeze conditions from five days to one month or 31 days.
Among others, Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is approved for storage up to 1 month at refrigerated temperatures and up to 7 months in a standard freezer.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is estimated to remain stable for two years at minus 15 degree celsius to minus 25 degree celsius and a maximum of three months at routine refrigeration at temperatures of 2 degree celsius to 8 degree celsius.
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and its use in 12- through 15-year-old adolescents following the recommendation of its independent advisory committee.
The two-dose vaccine is already authorized for use in people 16 and older.
Meanwhile, Uber and Lyft are offering free rides in U.S. to anyone going to a COVID-19 vaccination site to get their shots. The free ride-sharing program will start on May 24 and run through July 4.
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