After months of uncertainty over the storage temperature requirements for Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, the US Food and Drug Administration has said the vials can be stored in refrigerators for up to one month.
On Wednesday, the agency authorized storage of Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE's COVID-19 vaccine at standard freezer temperatures for up to one month. This was done in an effort to make the vaccine more widely available.
The FDA further clarified that unopened, thawed vials of the vaccine can be stored in a refrigerator at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for up to a month. The stipulation earlier in place was that the vaccine could be stored only for up to five days.
"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 FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, according to Reuters.
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The change is especially important for global and remote U.S. facilities that have poor transport and storage infrastructure.
In February, the U.S. health agency approved the storage and transportation of the vaccine at standard freezer temperatures for up to two weeks instead of ultra-cold conditions.
Earlier in the day, Health Canada said it had approved storage of the vaccine at standard refrigerated temperatures for up to a month, to allow for more flexibility in distribution plans.
The vaccine was granted emergency use authorization in December with a label requiring it be stored at temperatures between -80ºC and -60ºC (-112ºF to -76ºF), meaning it had to be shipped in specially designed containers.
Earlier this month, the US had given the go-ahead for the use of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for use in children. The authorities said that children as young as 12 would start getting vaccine shots, blazing new trail in Covid-19 treatment. President Joe Biden said this move was a promising development in the fight against the virus. He said he has asked states to make the vaccine available for the younger population.