Albert Bourla, the Thessaloniki-born CEO of Pfizer, told viewers in an online event on Covid-19 developments on Wednesday that a “new version” of its vaccine that will be easier to store at higher temperatures is on the way.
Pfizer has submitted information to U.S. health regulators about a new version of the Pfizer vaccine that could be stored in normal refrigerators for up to 10 weeks.
“As you know, we are right now (storing it at) 70 degrees Celsius, but we could use it two weeks in in a normal freezer,” said Bourla. Pfizer already has some data suggesting the vaccine could last for a month at normal refrigerator temperatures.
According to Bourla, the option of storage at normal refrigeration provides “tremendous flexibility” for health workers handling the precious vaccine.
Bourla added that Pfizer is working on a new version of its vaccine that will be ready to use, “so you don’t need to reconstitute it, you don’t need to dilute it.
Pfizer Vaccine Could Be Stored for Six Months
“This vaccine can be stored up to six months in normal refrigeration,” Bourla told viewers.
The CEO added that he was “very confident” the achievement could be done “pretty soon.”
The pharmaceutical company said it sent “stability data” to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last Friday and expects the formulation to be approved for emergency use soon.
Currently, the two-dose vaccine can be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, between -112F (-80C) and ‑76F (-60C) for up to six months, or from 13F (-25C) to 5F (-15C) for two weeks.
Pfizer Vaccine Vials Keep for Up to Five Days in Refrigerator
Once opened, the vials can be kept in the refrigerator between 36F (2C) and 46F (8C) for up to five days.
However, if approved, the new version could be stored at just above freezing temperatures for 70 days, or 10 weeks.
Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech SE, plan to seek approval of the vaccine for children ages 11 and younger by September.
Prior to the FDA granting emergency use authorization, engineers at Pfizer developed special boxes to ship the vaccine at extreme temperatures once it is approved and shipped from Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Pfizer uses isothermic boxes with dry ice which have a GPS inside each, as well as a meter so, at any time, it can be determined not only where the box is but what its temperature is as well.
This allows the vials to be shipped via any method of transportation, including trucks, airplanes and boats.
Reformulating Vaccine to Be Stored Faster, Cheaper
Reformulating the vaccine to allow vials to be stored in refrigerators is faster, cheaper and easier than the current model, and would allow the shots to be distributed more efficiently.
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is now recommended for people aged 12 years and older. Pfizer is already testing their vaccine in youngsters from six months of age to 11 years, and it may become available at some point in the Fall of this year.
The CDC states on its web page that people should not get vaccinated if they have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction — even if it was not severe — to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, such as polyethylene glycol.
You should also not be vaccinated with either of the mRNA vaccines if after getting the first dose of such a vaccine, you experience a severe allergic reaction. The CDC considers an allergic reaction severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or if they must go to the hospital.