The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Wednesday that Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 undiluted, thawed vaccine can be safely stored in a refrigerator for up to a month. Previously, the vaccine was only authorized to be stored under such conditions for five days.
The move “should make this vaccine more widely available” to Americans as storage requirements are relaxed, Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
“Making COVID-19 vaccines widely available is key to getting people vaccinated and bringing the pandemic to an end,” Marks’ statement said. “Pfizer Inc. submitted data to the FDA to support storage of undiluted, thawed vials of its COVID-19 vaccine for up to one month at refrigerator temperatures. 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.”
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The FDA’s decision comes days after the European Union’s regulator also greenlighted the update. Over 184 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been delivered across the U.S., 149 million of which have been administered.
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Recent studies have suggested that Pfizer’s shot and Moderna’s vaccine should offer protection against the Indian coronavirus variant, which was recently upgraded to a variant of concern by the World Health Organization. In the U.S., officials still consider the variant to be of “interest” rather than concern.