Vaccination hubs could soon store the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at normal medical freezer temperatures for up to two weeks, as the MHRA is reviewing new stability data supplied by the manufacturer.
Pfizer/BioNTech announced new data on Friday (19 February) showing that the vaccine can be kept at between -25C and -15C for two weeks, adding that this could spell ‘greater flexibility’ in how vaccination hubs manage their vaccine supply, if this is approved.
MHRA director of licensing Dr Siu Ping Lam told Pulse that Pfizer has shared the new stability data with it, and that ‘we are carefully reviewing it and will update guidance where necessary’.
At the moment, vaccination hubs can keep the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine refrigerated for up to five days at standard refrigerator temperatures – between 2C and 8C.
The manufacturers said, if approved, the hubs will have the added option of keeping the vaccine at between -25C and -15C for up to two weeks – thereby increasing storage life threefold post-delivery.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can also be stored at ultra-cold freezer temperatures for up to six months.
The submission – also shared with other international regulatory bodies – includes data from batches manufactured over the past nine months, including from those supplied at the earliest clinical trials, a statement from the companies said.
BioNTech CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin said: ‘We have continuously collected data that could enable storage at around -20C. The data submitted may facilitate the handling of our vaccine in pharmacies and provide vaccination centers an even greater flexibility.
‘We will continue to leverage our expertise to develop potential new formulations that could make our vaccine even easier to transport and use.’
A World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson told Pulse: ‘We are aware of the reports on new stability data for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and look forward to seeing the data. If proven correct, this could make roll-out of the vaccine easier in all countries, and particularly in low-income ones.’
Frozen vials of the soon-to-be-deployed Moderna vaccine can be stored at between -25C and -15C for up to seven months and once thawed can be kept in a fridge between 2C and 8C for up to 30 days if not punctured and protected from light, according to PHE.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures of 2-8C, and has a shelf life of six months.