New COVID-19 vaccines and required storage temperatures

New COVID-19 vaccines and required storage temperatures

Updated 23 November 2020

Following the positive preliminary results of three COVID-19 vaccines, logistical issues have been raised. For the NHS, important questions have come to the surface, amongst which what temperature the vaccine needs to be stored at and how to best monitor the vaccine stays stored at this temperature.

COVID-19 Vaccine Freezer and Fridge Temperature

Covid-19 Vaccine bottle

Three coronavirus vaccines, three different storage requirements. BioNTech-Pfizer, Sputnik V and Moderna have revealed good preliminary results. Pfizer announced on 9 November that preliminary results showed a 90% effectiveness rate, resulting in a great surge of hope across the UK. Results this week showed a protection rate of 94% of 65+ year olds. Moderna revealed preliminary results soon after stating an effectiveness of 95%. Sputnik V recorded an effectiveness of 92%.

To keep the vaccines at this effectiveness rate, certain storage requirements need to be met. These requirements differ between the vaccines. As reported by the BBC:

  • the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine needs a storage of -75°C (though other reports have revealed a required temperature of -70°C and -80°C) and can last in a fridge for five days
  • Moderna’s vaccine could last up to 6 months at -20°C and in a standard fridge for up to one month

The Moscow Times stated that:

  • the Sputnik V vaccine can be stored at a higher temperature than the previously mentioned vaccines, namely a minimum of -18°C. To solve transportation issues, researchers are looking at dry freezing this vaccine.

To compare, a flu vaccine demands a temperature storage of 2°C to 8°C.

What about temperature for the Oxford vaccine?

On Monday 23 November the research team for the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 revealed their vaccine offered a 70% protection rate. Earlier in a press release of 19 November they noted the vaccine showed ‘a robust immune response in healthy adults aged 56-69 and those over 70 years of age’, meaning the vaccine is a good candidate for protecting all age groups.

The vaccine could make a significant change for the UK as 100 million doses have been ordered for the country and storage of the vaccine is a lot easier. The Independent reported that the Oxford vaccine can be kept at a normal fridge temperature of 2°C to 8°C.

The reason for the difference in temperature storage relates to the technology through which the vaccines are created. The Oxford vaccine uses an engineered viral vector, which trains the body to neutralise infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. The use of this technology means it should not require a temperature below freezing, similar to our annual flu jabs.

The Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines on the other hand use what is called RNA technology, which provokes an immune response. This technology requires a much lower temperature.

Preparing vaccine fridges and freezers across the NHS

Vaccine freezer

Now that several vaccines are in the last stages before being rolled out to the public, the NHS is preparing to administer the vaccines. This means temperature control and monitoring of the vaccine fridges and freezers becomes essential.

Via Temp Tracker, we ourselves are rolling out our temperature monitoring solution to healthcare organisation who are preparing their freezers and fridges for the arrival of one or potentially multiple vaccines. If you wish to have the ability to monitor the temperature of your vaccine storage and receive alerts on any deviations, please visit our dedicated Temp Tracker page or get in touch to receive a live demo so you can get a full understanding of how the solution can help you in reducing any vaccine wastage.