Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine can be stored in standard freezers

One Bay Area expert says the downside of putting the Pfizer vaccine in a standard freezer is the shelf life goes from 6 months to 2 weeks.

Video Transcript

LUZ PENA: In this freezer are the last 390 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines in Marin County. The man making sure these freezers don't break is Woody Baker-Cohn.

WOODY BAKER-COHN: In the neighborhood of minus 80 degrees Celsius, because the vaccine is, obviously, so precious. We've got two freezers, a primary, which has a vaccine in it right here, and then a backup in case something goes wrong.

LUZ PENA: If Pfizer's request is approved by regulators, it would mean that this vaccine could be transported to more places across the world without the need of these specialized freezers.

Deepak Sisodiya is Stanford's Administrative Director of Pharmacy Services. He believes this temperature change will expedite the distribution process, but could this also have a negative impact on the vaccine efficacy?

DEEPAK SISODIYA: Not a negative impact.

LUZ PENA: But he says, it does shorten its shelf life.

DEEPAK SISODIYA: Historically, with ultra low temperature, it was as long as six months. A standard freezing environment shortens that, but it does a lot for up to two weeks.

LUZ PENA: Today, a new study out of Israel found that just one shot of the Pfizer vaccine is 85% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19.

Since the shelf life is going to decrease, do you project that maybe counties are going to try to go through that first batch of Pfizer doses as soon as possible rather than storing them for people who are waiting for the second dose?

DEEPAK SISODIYA: It's theoretically possible. I believe with our current state of vaccination efforts here in California, we really are trying to exhaust vaccines as fast as we can.

LUZ PENA: And in hopes to increase more vaccine supply, today, President Biden visited Pfizer's assembly line in Michigan, where this company is promising to produce batches in half the time from 110 days down to 60 days. In San Francisco, Luz Pena, ABC 7 News.