2 Big Finds on the Pfizer Vaccine Front

One dose is effective, and the vaccine can be stored in ordinary freezers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2021 1:38 PM CST
2 Big Finds on the Pfizer Vaccine Front
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is stored in a freezer at NYC Health Hospitals/Metropolitan on Thursday in New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A new study has produced two big finds that could have wide-ranging implications for coronavirus vaccine distribution and storage. Per the Wall Street Journal, the peer-reviewed research out of Israel published Thursday in the Lancet shows that just one shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 85% effective at stopping symptomatic COVID 15 to 28 days after inoculation. The study of 9,000 or so subjects also found a 75% decrease in both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections after that first jab was given. This means more nations might opt to take the approach of the UK in administering the vaccine—that is, to use more of the available doses to give people their first shot, rather than saving doses to use as second shots. The delay, then, between first and second shots would be extended from the current three weeks; the UK allows delays of up to 12 weeks.

"This is the first study assessing effectiveness of a single vaccine dose in real-life conditions and shows early effectiveness, even before the second dose was administered," study co-author Eyal Leshem says. The second discovery is that the vaccine can now be safely stored for two weeks in regular commercial freezers typically found in pharmacies, instead of in more sophisticated, much colder units that are harder to find, reports the New York Times. While the vaccine's labels currently say the vaccine must be stored at temperatures between minus-112 degrees F and minus-76 degrees F, the update notes it can actually be kept between minus -3 degrees F to 5 degrees F. The companies are now trying to get the FDA to approve the new storage guidelines, per a statement. (Read more Pfizer stories.)

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