Pfizer Covid vaccine temperature: Why does it have to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius?

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Covid-19 has continued to spread across the UK and around the world, with more than 70,000 deaths in the UK alone. But a coronavirus vaccine is now just days away, after the UK approved the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine for mass vaccination.

The British medicine regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), confirmed that the vaccine is safe for a nationwide rollout.

The Pfizer vaccine is believed to offer up to 95 percent protection against the coronavirus.

The first batch of doses are already on their way to the UK, ahead of a major vaccination programme.

But the vaccines will need to be stored at incredibly low temperatures.

Why is the vaccine stored at -70 degrees Celsius?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, which uses genetic information from the coronavirus.

But to keep the mRNA safe as it travels through the body, scientists had to wrap it up in a protective barrier.

This protective barrier uses lipid nanoparticles, which directs the mRNA directly into the correct body cells.

It’s these nanoparticles – which are very unlikely to be harmful – that need to be kept at such low temperatures.

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A Pfizer spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “The temperature requirements for our vaccine are dictated by the lipid nanoparticle system that we use to deliver our vaccine to the target cells.”

The vaccine must be kept at -70 degrees Celsius while it is transported.

It can be kept at these ultra-low temperatures for up to six months.

Once it arrives in clinics or GP surgeries, the vaccine can be kept in a common fridge for up to five days.

News of the vaccine’s imminent arrival will come as a major boost to the UK public, after a stop-start 2020.

After the MHRA approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the President of the British Society for Immunology described the day as “a momentous day us all.”

“Covid-19 has impacted all our lives in so many ways and hope of an exit strategy has relied on a safe and effective vaccine.

“Today that hope has been realised with the announcement that the UK Government has accepted the MHRA’s recommendation to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use.”

The first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are already being sent to the UK.

Around 400,000 people will be eligible to have their first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus jab by next week.

But the vaccine can only be sent in batches of up to 5,000 doses.

That’s because of the incredibly cold temperatures needed during transportation, which also requires dry ice.

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