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EMA agreed to extend storage period of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in fridges; move is intended to boost its rollout across EU

DUBLIN: The EU medicines regulator has extended the storage period for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in order to accelerate its rollout across the EU countries.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved the storage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in fridges for up to a month. The EMA said in a statement that the storage period of the Pfizer vaccine in fridges has been extended from five days to one month.

“Increased flexibility in the storage and handling of the vaccine is expected to have a significant impact on planning and logistics of vaccine rollout in EU member states. This change extends the approved storage period of the unopened thawed vial at two-eight degrees Celsius (i.e. in a normal fridge after taking out of deep-freeze conditions) from five days to one month (31 days),” the EMA said.

The high efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 has been tempered by the difficulties of storing and transporting the vaccine due to the need for super-cold conditions, it has been learned.

The EU’s drug agency said two months ago that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could be stored in normal freezers before being allowed to remain in fridges for short periods of time. According to the German developer BioNTech, the EMA made the decision based on new information it provided.

“The change of the storage conditions is based on new data from stability studies that confirmed the product quality for 31 days,” said BioNTech.

Meanwhile a recent study from the US found that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are highly effective against the Indian COVID-19 variants. The lab-based research is considered preliminary because it has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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