The length of time the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be kept unopened in a fridge has been increased from five days to one month.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) previously advised that vials needed to be kept at an ultra-low temperature, between minus 70C and minus 80C, until a few days before use when it can be transferred to a standard medical fridge.
But the EMA said in a statement it had extended the approved storage period for an unopened thawed vial when kept in a fridge between 2C and 8C from five days to one month.
“The change was approved following assessment of additional stability study data submitted to EMA by the marketing authorization holder,” the agency said.
It added increased flexibility in the storage and handling of the vaccine is expected to have a “significant impact” on the planning and logistics of vaccine roll-out in EU member states.
It comes just days after research suggested a 12-week gap between Pfizer doses significantly increases the immune response in older people.