The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the storage of an mRNA-based COVID-19 to be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures for up to a month, aiding efforts to make the vaccines more widely available worldwide.
Unopened, thawed vials of the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (35-46 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to a month, up from a previous maximum limit of five days, the FDA said.
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech has been one most difficult vaccines to store as it needed to be kept in minus 70 degrees Celcius – which is more than twice as cold as winter in Siberia.
The FDA said it had made the decision "based on a review of recent data submitted by Pfizer."
"This change should make this 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," said Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday also approved the storage of the Pfizer vaccine in fridges for up to a month.
The FDA had already relaxed conditions for the vaccine's storage in February, allowing it to be kept "at conventional temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers for a period of up to two weeks" rather than ultra-low freezer temperature of minus 80 to minus 60 degrees Celsius.
Among others, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is approved for storage up to one month at refrigerated temperatures and up to seven months in a standard freezer.
Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac, which is one of the two currently available vaccines in Turkey, can be stored in a standard refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius, like the AstraZeneca and Oxford vaccine
Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is estimated to remain stable for two years at minus 15 degrees Celsius to minus 25 degrees Celsius and a maximum of three months at routine refrigeration at temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius.
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