SA’s medicines regulator has extended the length of time the thawed Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine can be stored in a normal refrigerator from five days to a month, a development expected to enable the government to offer the shot at a wider range of health facilities, including those in rural areas.

After a series of delays and unexpected setbacks, SA began its national coronavirus vaccine rollout last week with the Pfizer shot, which because of its ultra-cold freezer requirements and short refrigerator storage time has been largely limited to urban health-care facilities. SA is still waiting for US regulators to give Johnson & Johnson the green light to release its Covid-19 vaccine, which has been held back due to safety concerns at a Baltimore plant that makes vaccine ingredients used throughout its supply chain. The J&J shot does not require ultra-cold storage, and was expected to be the backbone of SA’s vaccination programme...

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