- Pfizer is seeking approval from the FDA to store COVID-19 vaccines at higher temperatures.
- Pfizer released data that shows the shots can be stored at temperatures between -13°F to 5°F.
- New research has also found the two-dose shot to be highly effective after one dose.
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Pfizer and BioNTech announced Friday that they are seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to store their COVID-19 vaccine at higher temperatures. New data from Pfizer shows the shots can be stored at temperatures between minus 13 degrees and 5 degrees Fahrenheit for up to two weeks as an “alternative or complement to storage in an ultra-low temperature freezer.”
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in a press release said, “We appreciate our ongoing collaboration with the FDA and CDC as we work to ensure our vaccine can be shipped and stored under increasingly flexible conditions. If approved, this new storage option would offer pharmacies and vaccination centres greater flexibility in how they manage their vaccine supply.”
The data “does not show any change in the efficacy of the vaccine’s ability to protect against COVID-19 disease” when stored at the higher temperatures, Pfizer spokesperson Jerica Pitts told Insider in a statement.
Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine was the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in the US but the vials have to be stored at ultra-cold freezer temperatures between minus 112 and minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit making it hard to transport and store.
The data comes as research from the Sheba Medical Centre in Israel shows that the Pfizer/BioNTech shot is highly effective after only one dose. In the study, published in the Lancet Medical Journal, the hospital observed that infection rates 15-28 days after the first dose had been administered were reduced by 85%. Pfizer/BioNTech still recommend that patients get two full doses of the vaccine.
The only two COVID-19 vaccines to be approved in the US are from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, both of which require patients to receive two doses of the vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson released phase 3 trial data in late January outlining the safety and efficacy of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine. The shot was found to be 66% effective at preventing mild and moderate infections, and 85% effective at preventing severe disease. J&J has submitted its vaccine for emergency use authorization with the FDA, and a decision could come before the end of February.
More than 57 million doses of the vaccine have already been administered in the US, according to data collected by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
By April, Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC News that “virtually everybody and anybody” in the US will begin to have access to a vaccine, and said an “overwhelming majority” of people could be vaccinated by the middle of the summer.