EU Backs Pfizer Storage At Regular Freezer Temperature

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 15, 2021 vials of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19, stored at -70 ° in a super freezer of the hospital of Le Mans, northwestern France as the country carry on a vaccination campaign to fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus.  (Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)

 

 

Vials of Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine can be kept at normal freezer temperatures for short periods instead of in ultra-cold storage, the EU’s drugs regulator said Friday.

The change would help the “rapid roll-out” of vaccines across Europe, where vaccination campaigns are stalling due to supply and logistical issues, the European Medicines Agency said in a statement.

The EU regulator had “given a positive opinion to allow transportation and storage of vials of this vaccine at temperatures between -25 to -15 degrees Celsius (-13 to 5 Fahrenheit)… for a one-off period of two weeks.”

The EMA said this was the “temperature of standard pharmaceutical freezers”

“This is an alternative to the long-term storage of the vials at a temperature between -90 to -60 degrees Celsius in special freezers” the Amsterdam-based watchdog added in a statement.

“It is expected to facilitate the rapid roll-out and distribution of the vaccine in the EU by reducing the need for ultra-low temperature cold storage conditions throughout the supply chain.”

The US made a similar decision about the Pfizer vaccine on February 25.

The Pfizer vaccine’s high effectiveness against coronavirus has been tempered by the difficulty of storing and transporting the jab due to the need for super-cold conditions.

Freezer Firm To Launch Probe After Japan Vaccines Spoiled

An employee opens an ultra low-temperature freezer at a cold room of the Bexen Medical company facilities in the Spanish Basque city of Hernani, on November 18, 2020, where the Basque Country will store the vaccine for COVID-19 by Pfizer pharmaceutical laboratory after its expected arrival on December 26, 2020. 
ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

 

 

Japan said Tuesday an investigation would be launched after more than 1,000 coronavirus vaccine doses had to be thrown out when a freezer storing them malfunctioned.

A medical institution reported that 172 vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which must be kept between -80 and -60 degrees centigrade, were rendered useless after the freezer breakdown over the weekend, Japan’s health ministry said, wasting up to 1,032 doses.

Japan began its inoculation programme on February 17 — just over five months before the Tokyo Olympics — and has so far only approved the Pfizer/BioNTech drug.

Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said Tuesday that the cause of the malfunction was not yet clear, but the firm that installed the freezer would investigate and report back.

Kato said Japan had installed around 100 vaccine freezers nationwide by the end of February.

“We would like to respond quickly to whatever is necessary, based on what the results of the investigation carried out by the company that installed it,” Kato said.

Japan began vaccinating healthcare workers in mid-February, with the minister in charge of the process admitting he had “no idea” how much of the population would receive the jab before the Olympics, which start on July 23.

As of March 1, it had administered first doses to nearly 32,000 doctors and nurses, according to vaccine minister Taro Kono.

The country has reached deals with three major drug firms to buy enough doses for its population of 126 million.

But it was also scrambling to secure enough special syringes needed to extract six full doses from each vial of the Pfizer vaccine.

Japan is running a cautious rollout programme and is planning to initially vaccinate 40,000 healthcare workers across the country, before administering jabs to around 3.7 million more in March.

Vaccines for around 36 million people aged 65 or older are set to start from April.

COVID-19: WHO Gives ‘Emergency’ Approval To Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached, with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, on November 17, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached, with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, on November 17, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

The World Health Organization on Thursday granted emergency validation to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, paving the way for countries worldwide to quickly approve its import and distribution.

Britain launched its inoculation drive with the US-German vaccine on December 8, with the United States, Canada and EU countries following suit.

WHO said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was the first to receive its “emergency validation” since the novel coronavirus first broke out in China a year ago.

“This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines,” said Mariangela Simao, a top WHO official tasked with ensuring access to medicines.

“But I want to emphasise the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere,” she said in a statement.

READ ALSO: China Approves Home-Made COVID-19 Vaccine

WHO said its emergency use listing opens the way for regulators in different countries to approve the import and distribution of the vaccine.

It said it also enables UNICEF, which plays a key logistical role in distributing anti-Covid vaccines, and the Pan-American Health Organization to procure the vaccine for countries that need it.

WHO convened its own experts and those from around the world to review the data on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine’s “safety, efficacy and quality,” weighing the benefits against the risks.

“The review found that the vaccine met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO, and that the benefits of using the vaccine to address COVID-19 offset potential risks,” it said.

AFP