MHRA review could allow Pfizer jab storage at normal fridge temperature for a month

The MHRA is considering changes to rules on storage of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that could more than quadruple the time it can be kept at normal fridge temperatures.

Pfizer vaccine (Photo: SOPA Images/Getty Images)
Pfizer vaccine (Photo: SOPA Images/Getty Images)

GPonline reported earlier this week that the European Medicines Agency had confirmed a major change in storage rules for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in EU countries.

UK medical regulator the MHRA has now confirmed that it is also considering an application from the vaccine manufacturer for storage rules to be updated.

MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine said: 'We have also received an application from Pfizer for an update to the storage conditions for their COVID-19 vaccine.

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'It is normal practice for new products to undergo updates to aspects of their conditions for use and as with any update, this will need our assessment and approval before the new conditions for supply are approved in the UK. We will continue to make this a priority.'

COVID-19 vaccine storage

The change approved for EU countries 'extends the approved storage period of the unopened thawed vial at 2-8°C (i.e. in a normal fridge after taking out of deep-freeze conditions) from five days to one month'.

If approved for the UK, the extended storage period could prove a major boost for vaccination sites as they work through patients aged under 40 - for whom the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are preferred to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

More than 1m additional patients aged 37 and 38 years old across England were set to be contacted on 18 and 19 May and invited to book a jab.

Alongside the expansion of the vaccination campaign to younger patients, the government announced last week that second doses would be brought forward for millions of patients aged over 50 amid rising concern over the spread of the so-called Indian variant of coronavirus, B.1.617.2.

Second-dose vaccinations have been brought forward for all patients in Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation cohorts 1-9 who are yet to receive them. Second doses will now be administered at 8 weeks from the first dose, rather than 12 weeks as initially planned.

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