Health Canada says the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can now be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures for up to 31 days.
The vaccine was first authorized with a recommended storage temperature of between -80 C and -60 C. Once thawed, vaccine vials could only be stored in a refrigerator for up to five days. This change significantly extends the length of time the vaccine can be stored in a normal refrigerator, meaning that facilities lacking deep freezers can keep the vaccine for longer.
“This change means that there will be more storage options available for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which will allow for more flexibility in distribution plans,” reads the release.
“It just means you have a much more versatile vaccine,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital. “Because it can be stored at conventional refrigeration temperatures for a month, you can start to get this vaccine in more places.”
If other countries also adopted these guidelines, it would make a difference to the global vaccine rollout, he said. “We know that there are many low-income settings and low-resource settings that will have challenges dealing with the cold chain. And when you don’t need to have a -80 storage and you can keep this in conventional refrigeration for a month, you just can expand your vaccine programs.
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