Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine can be stored in a fridge for one month instead of five days, as was previously reported, at between 2°C and 8°C, the medical director of Pfizer’s Dutch branch, Marc Kaptein, said on Friday on the 1 op 1 radio programme.
This means general practitioners will now be able to vaccinate their patients with the Pfizer vaccine, once the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves the extension of the conservation period.
The vaccine is cooled in the factory at a temperature of -90°C to -60°C. It can be transported at -25°C to -15°C. “It then needs to be placed in a freezer capable of going as low as -90°C to -60°C,” a Pfizer spokesperson explained.
“Or you could keep it in the fridge for five days,” the spokesperson said, adding that “this storage time has now been extended to one month.”
Until now, the vaccine was not administered by GPs because many doctor’s offices did not have adequate freezers to conserve it beyond five days.
“These directives were issued at the start of the pandemic, when we had little data on the vaccine and had to envisage the safest option,” the spokesperson explained. Since then, new information has emerged, showing that the vials can be stored for a month in the fridge.
“This is not only good news for GPs but would also facilitate the use of the vaccine in countries with few freezers by allowing such low refrigeration temperatures,” the spokesperson noted.
Mr. Kaptein said he hoped the EMA would approve the extension before the end of the month, adding that the Dutch Institute of Public Health and Environment (RIVM) needed to determine whether the GPs would, in fact, begin to use the Pfizer vaccine.