Pfizer has submitted information to U.S. health regulators about a new version of its coronavirus vaccine that could allow it to be stored at refrigerator temperatures for up to 10 weeks.
In an earnings report on Tuesday, the pharmaceutical company said it sent ‘stability data’ to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 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.
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.
It comes as Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech SE, plan to ask for approval of the vaccine for use in children aged 11 and younger by September and as President Joe Biden announced children from ages 12 to 15 might be able to get vaccinated starting next week.
Pfizer says it has developed a new version of its coronavirus vaccine that could be stored between 36F (2C) and and 46F (8C) for up to 10 weeks. Pictured: Vial of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 in Seattle, January 2021
Currently, the vaccine must be kept between -112F (-80C) and ‑76F (-60C) for up to six months or from 13F (-25C) to 5F (-15C) for two weeks. Pictured: Freezers for storing finished Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, October 2020
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.
The isothermic boxes with dry ice have a GPS inside each one as well as a meter so, at any point in time, it can be determined where the box is and what the temperature is.
This allows the vials to be shipped via any method of transportation including trucks, airplanes and boats.
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.
In an earnings call on Tuesday, Pfizer said it plans on asking the FDA for full approval this month and to ask for approval for kids ages 2 to 11 in September. Pictured: Caleb Chung receives the first dose of either the vaccine or placebo in a trial, December 2020