The US Food and Drug Administration handed Pfizer a victory on Thursday, agreeing to allow its Covid-19 vaccine to be transported and stored for up to two weeks at "conventional temperatures" typically found in pharmaceutical freezers.
The FDA’s decision can relieve some of the constraints that have made the vaccine especially difficult to store and distribute.
The FDA previously recommended that the vaccine be stored at ultra-cold temperatures between -80 and -60 degrees Celsius, but noted in its announcement that the change to temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers "reflects an alternative to the preferred storage of the undiluted vials."
"Pfizer submitted data to the FDA to support this alternative temperature for transportation and storage," Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.
"This alternative temperature for transportation and storage of the undiluted vials is significant and allows the vials to be transported and stored under more flexible conditions," Marks said. "The alternative temperature for transportation and storage will help ease the burden of procuring ultra-low cold storage equipment for vaccination sites and should help to get vaccine to more sites."
The change in storage temperatures for the vaccine will be noted in updates to the "fact sheet" for health care providers administering the vaccine that is available on the FDA's website.