Pfizer vaccine highly effective after 1st dose, can be stored at higher temperature, study finds

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Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine was 85 percent effective after a single dose in a peer-reviewed study, and the drugmakers said it doesn't need to be stored at ultralow temperatures, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 19. 

In the study of 9,000 people conducted by Sheba Medical Center — a hospital in Ramat Gan, Israel and controlled by the Israeli government — a single dose of Pfizer's vaccine was 85 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 15 to 28 days after being administered. The study was published in the journal Lancet.

The study also found a 75 percent reduction in both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases after the first shot, the Journal reported. 

The results of the study may differ from others because the study subjects were largely younger and healthier, one of the study's authors told the Journal, adding that the study couldn't determine how long protection against the virus would last after a single dose, as most subjects eventually received a second shot. 

Pfizer and BioNTech also said Feb. 19 that the vaccine can be stored and transported at temperatures between minus 13 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers and refrigerators. The drugmakers asked the FDA to update the authorization of the vaccine so they can be stored at these temperatures, which would "offer pharmacies and vaccination centers greater flexibility in how they manage their vaccine supply," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said. 

Currently, the FDA authorization of the vaccine states it must be stored at temperatures between minus 112 and minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Hill. That requires providers to keep the vaccines in specialized freezers that can reach the ultralow temperatures.

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