May 18 (UPI) -- Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine can be stored for a longer period of time at non-freezing temperatures than previously recommended, the European Union's top medical regulator says.
The European Medicines Agency said on Monday that the vaccine developed by Pfizer and partner BioNTech can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for one month, rather than the previously recommended five days.
Refrigerator temperatures range from about 35 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
Previous recommendations advised that ampules of the unopened vaccine must be kept at ultra-low temperatures between minus 94 to minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit, until a few days before use when it could be moved to refrigerators.
"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 European Medicines Agency said in a statement Monday.
The agency is the EU's top health regulator in charge of supervising medical products.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved storage and transport of the Pfizer vaccine at standard freezer temperatures of minus 5 degrees to minus 13 degrees for up to two weeks, as opposed to the ultra-low temperatures.
Pfizer had asked the FDA to approve the warmer storage and transportation temperatures after tests indicated that the vaccine remained stable in those conditions.
"We have been continuously performing stability studies to support the production of the vaccine at commercial scale, with the goal of making the vaccine as accessible as possible for healthcare providers and people across the U.S. and around the world," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said at the time.