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US Drug Regulator Relaxes Cold Storage Requirements for Pfizer Vaccine


FILE - Pharmacy supervisor Kevin Weissman wears a thick glove as he opens the door of a special freezer that will hold the Pfizer vaccine at LAC USC Medical Center, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, in Los Angeles, California, Dec. 10. 2020.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the he COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and German-based BioNTech can be stored much longer at temperatures higher than previously recommended.

The U.S. federal government’s drug regulatory agency said Wednesday the two-shot vaccine can be stored in a standard refrigerator between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius for up to a month after its been thawed, as opposed to the previous limit of just five days. The FDA had mandated the Pfizer vaccine be stored in ultra-cold temperatures up to minus 80 degrees Celsius when it approved emergency use authorization in December.

Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said the revised recommendations will make the vaccine “more widely available to the American public by facilitating the ability of vaccine providers, such as community doctors' offices, to receive, store and administer the vaccine.”

The European Union’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, issued a similar recommendation earlier this week.

FILE - U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci speaks at the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Jan. 21, 2021.
FILE - U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci speaks at the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Jan. 21, 2021.

COVID-19 Booster

In related news, Dr. Anthony Fauci says people who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 may need a booster shot within a year after their final shot. The head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden said Wednesday the booster may be needed because the initial inoculation is “generally not lifelong.”

Meanwhile, authorities in Singapore have ordered both Facebook and Twitter to issue a correction notice on their platforms over what it says is a false statement about a new coronavirus variant that had been detected in the city-state.

The order comes in response to a Twitter post by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal earlier this week that India was at risk of a new strain of the virus that originated in Singapore, which he claimed was particularly harmful to children.

FILE - A view of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore, May 14, 2021.
FILE - A view of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore, May 14, 2021.

The order for the U.S.-based social media giants was made under Singapore’s controversial anti-fake news law, formally known as the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, which critics say has been used to stifle free speech since coming into effect in 2019.

Facebook and Twitter confirmed they had received the request and complied with it.

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