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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can now be stored in a fridge for longer, Health Canada says

Click to play video: 'Health Canada says Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can now be stored in a fridge for a month' Health Canada says Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can now be stored in a fridge for a month
WATCH: Health Canada says Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can now be stored in a fridge for a month – May 19, 2021

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can now be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures for up to 31 days, Health Canada said in a press release Wednesday.

The vaccine was first authorized with a recommended storage temperature of between -80 C and -60 C. Once thawed, vaccine vials could only be stored in a refrigerator for up to five days. This change significantly extends the length of time the vaccine can be stored in a normal refrigerator, meaning that facilities lacking deep freezers are able to keep the vaccine for longer.

“This change means that there will be more storage options available for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which will allow for more flexibility in distribution plans,” reads the release.

Read more: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can be stored in fridge for a month, E.U. says

This change follows a similar recommendation from the European Medicines Agency on Monday.

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“It just means you have a much more versatile vaccine,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital. “Because it can be stored at conventional refrigeration temperatures for a month, you can really start to get this vaccine in more places.”

This could include family doctors’ offices and pharmacies, he said.

If other countries also adopted these guidelines, it would make a difference to the global vaccine rollout, he said. “We know that there’s many low-income settings and low-resource settings that will have challenges dealing with the cold chain. And when you don’t need to have a -80 storage and you can keep this in conventional refrigeration for a month, you just can expand your vaccine programs.

“It will have some impact here in Canada. But I think globally this will have a much more significant impact.”

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