Needing to be stored at -70C, the distribution of the Pfizer Covid vaccine had its challenges. Furthermore, any of the thawed jabs that weren’t administered in five days were then left to go to waste. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has now approved a shelf life of 31 days for the Pfizer vaccine. Dr June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive, said: “We have now approved more flexible storage conditions for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
“Up until now, the Pfizer vaccine had to be administered within five days of being removed from ultra-low temperature freezers.
“Now that the jab can be stored at normal fridge temperatures for up to 31 days, it can be used in a wider range of healthcare settings, giving patients greater access to the Pfizer vaccine.”
Public Health England (PHE) estimated that 13,000 deaths have been prevented in people over the age of 60 since the vaccination roll-out began.
The new report suggests that:
- 60-69 years old – 300 lives saved
- 70-79 years old – 1,600 lives saved
- 80 years and older – 11,000 lives saved
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Moreover, estimates indicated that 39,100 hospitalisations in those aged 65 and over in England has been prevented.
The analysis, which takes into account the impact of two Covid doses, suggests that the AstraZeneca jab provides between 85 to 90 percent protection against symptomatic disease.
Symptoms of Covid, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- A new, continuous cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Any of the following signs are an emergency, and you must call for an ambulance:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, grey, or blue-coloured skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, commented on the new PHE report.
“This new data shows the vaccine saves lives and protects you from ending up in hospital with COVID-19.
“The 13,000 deaths and the 39,100 hospitalisations that have been prevented are not just numbers.
“They are our family, our friends, our loved ones and a poignant reminder of the impact the vaccine is having.”
As the Indian Covid variant becomes more dominant across England, the vaccination roll-out is now calling upon 34 to 35 year olds.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunication at PHE, said that “getting your vaccine is one of the most important ways to beat the spread of this terrible disease”.
Dr Ramsay reassured the public that the “vaccines are very safe and very effective”.
With the aim to reduce transmission of the highly contagious Indian Covid variant, surge testing has been implemented across the UK.
Surge testing – where it’s taking place
North West England
- Blackburn with Darwen
- Kensington and Chelsea
- Telford and Wrekin
Yorkshire and North East England
Surge testing requires people to use the PCR test, which involves swabbing the nose and throat, and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
While participants await their results, they must self-isolate until they have a negative PCR result.
If the test is positive, the affected person needs to self-isolate for 10 days.