A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Pfizer to ask Health Canada to adjust rules to say vaccine safe in regular freezers

Further testing shows the vaccine can remain stable for up to two weeks in temperatures between -15C and -25C

By Mia Rabson

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Pfizer and BioNTech say their COVID-19 vaccine can now safely be stored in regular freezers for up to two weeks, potentially easing some of the difficulty getting the vaccine distributed outside of major cities.

Pfizer’s vaccine has been the trickiest to handle because until now the companies said it had to be kept frozen between -60C and -80C until shortly before it is thawed and injected.

The companies asked the United States to adjust the vaccine’s emergency-use authorization to note the temperature change Friday and a Canadian spokeswoman says they intend to ask Health Canada to do so in the next few weeks.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Health Canada regulators are already in talks with the companies about the matter and will be ready to make a decision when the request comes.

Canada bought dozens of ultracold freezers to help provinces properly store the Pfizer vaccine and chose not to use this vaccine for the territories or other remote locations because of the freezer requirements.

In documents filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Pfizer and BioNTech say further testing shows the vaccine can remain stable for up to two weeks in temperatures between -15C and -25C, which is typical of more common freezers, including those used in pharmacies and medical clinics.

READ MORE: Health Canada authorizes use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

READ MORE: Data suggests Pfizer vaccine may be almost as good after 1 dose as 2

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