Pfizer seeks FDA permission to store COVID-19 vaccines at higher temperatures

Photo (c) Franky DeMeyer - Getty Images

The pharmaceutical giant wants to make it easier to deliver and store the vaccines

In an effort to simplify logistics and expedite the vaccine rollout, Pfizer has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for permission to store its vaccine at temperatures higher than initially recommended. 

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the approval would make storing the vaccine at pharmacies and vaccination centers easier, which would help get the vaccine into the arms of more people faster. 

“We have been continuously performing stability studies to support the production of the vaccine at commercial scale, with the goal of making the vaccine as accessible as possible for healthcare providers and people across the U.S. and around the world,” Bourla said Friday. “If approved, this new storage option would offer pharmacies and vaccination centers greater flexibility in how they manage their vaccine supply.” 

New stability data

The company has asked to be able to store its COVID-19 at temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers and refrigerators for a total of two weeks "as an alternative or complement to storage in an ultra-low temperature freezer.” 

Currently, the vaccine is authorized to be stored only at ultra-cold temperatures of between minus 112 and minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit. It can remain stored at these temperatures for up to 6 months. Pfizer’s approval request was accompanied by data showing that the vaccine is stable between minus 13 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. 

“The data submitted may facilitate the handling of our vaccine in pharmacies and provide vaccination centers an even greater flexibility,” said Ugur Sahin, CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech. “We will continue to leverage our expertise to develop potential new formulations that could make our vaccine even easier to transport and use.”

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