IN BRIEF

Pfizer vaccine doesn’t need ultra cold storage after all

Worldwide

23 February 2021

New data from Israel shows that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be safely stored and transported in regular refrigerated facilities, rather thane ultra cold conditions originally stipulated. This opens up the possibility of distributing the vaccine to smaller clinics, pharmacies, and more remote areas.

Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted the new data to US regulators, which shows that the shot remains stable at a temperature of –15°C to –25°C for up to two weeks, rather than the –60°C to –80°C conditions previously required.

The ultra cold storage conditions have posed considerable logistical challenges to the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, the first to be widely approved by regulators around the world at the end of last year. These challenges led to concerns that the vaccine would not reach developing countries, or remote parts of the developed world.

BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said the news, which is based on an Israeli study published in The Lancet last Friday, gives vaccination centres “greater flexibility”. Sahin added that the company is continuously developing new formulations to make the jab “even easier to transport and use”. 

The news is likely to make the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine more competitive, as other vaccines have been shown to be stable at higher temperatures from the outset.