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“Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine may not require the hospital grade, ultra-low temperature freezer storage originally thought.”

Pfizer and BioNTech after submitting new data to the FDA which they say shows their COVID-19 vaccine may be stored at warmer temperatures.

Published on

feb 20, 2021

BACKGROUND: In December, the FDA approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use. The mRNA vaccine is a two-dose vaccine given 21 days apart to people 16 and older. Currently, it must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures (-112ºF to -76ºF) before being administered.

  • WHAT’S NEW: The companies submitted new data to the FDA “demonstrating the stability of their COVID-19 vaccine” when it’s stored at -13°F to 5°F.
  • WHY IT MATTTERS: If the FDA agrees with the new data and relaxes current storage rules for the vaccine, it could be stored at lower temperatures for up to two weeks, meaning specially-designed containers might not be necessary and that vaccines could be stored in pharmacy freezers instead — this could ease logistical issues, making distribution both simpler and faster, enabling more widespread availability.
  • ALSO… This week two studies of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine were released indicating that the vaccine is highly effective after the first dose leading to policy questions about whether the second dose should be delayed in order to allow for more people to receive the first dose, thereby spreading out the supply by increasing the number of people getting (at least) the first dose.
    • Not everyone agrees. The director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Paul Offit said that the second dose of either the Pfizer or Modern vaccine results in longer-lasting protections, stating “I think if we have people who just get one dose of the vaccine, which will give you shorter and less complete immunity, that’s only going to create variants.”

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