The European Union’s drugs regulator said the Pfizer Covid vaccine can now be stored at fridge temperature for much longer than it previously recommended.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that once the vaccines thawed, unopened vials could be kept in the fridge for up to a month.
The current limit is just five days.
The increased flexibility is expected to have a significant impact on the vaccine roll-out across the EU.
The need for transport and storage at very low temperatures has been one of the major disadvantages of the Pfizer jab.
The previous storage requirements for Pfizer vaccines have made them harder to use in some parts of the world.
In February, the United States approved storage and transport of the Pfizer vaccine at standard freezer temperatures of -15 to -25C for up to two weeks, as opposed to between -80 to -60C that it usually requires.
“Increased flexibility in the storage and handling of the vaccine is expected to have a significant impact on planning and logistics of vaccine rollout in EU member states,” the EMA said.
“This change extends the approved storage period of the unopened thawed vial at two-eight degrees Celsius [i.e. in a normal fridge after taking out of deep-freeze conditions] from five days to one month,” it added.
“The change of the storage conditions is based on new data from stability studies that confirmed the product quality for 31 days.”