Pfizer has reportedly agreed to extend the expiration date of some 60,000 doses of its coronavirus vaccines that were kept in ultra-cold conditions by Israel.
According to a report Wednesday evening on Channel 13 news, the vaccines’ end-of-July expiration date was extended to the end of October following discussions in recent weeks between Health Ministry officials and Pfizer executives.
The US Food and Drug Administration, after giving the Pfizer vaccine final approval on August 23, said that some doses could be used up to three months after their expiration dates, provided they were stored in the right conditions.
“Cartons and vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine with an expiry date of May 2021 through February 2022 printed on the label may remain in use for 3 months beyond the printed date as long as approved storage conditions between -90ºC to -60ºC (-130ºF to -76ºF) have been maintained,” the FDA said in a fact sheet about the vaccine.
In early July, Israel shipped some 700,000 doses set to expire to South Korea, as part of a deal that saw Seoul agree to send fresh vaccines in exchange. As July drew to a close, reports said Israel was about to trash some 80,000 doses set to expire. But it was never confirmed that those doses were in fact disposed of.
Israel has struggled to raise vaccination levels amid a surge in morbidity driven by the ultra-infectious Delta variant of the virus, and has been offering the fully vaccinated a third booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
At the same time, the country has sought other solutions to lower the number of serious cases, reducing the occupancy in coronavirus wards and freeing up valuable ECMO machines.
On Thursday, Israel will begin to widely administer Regeneron’s under-the-skin injection synthetic antibody treatment to COVID-19 patients with a risk of developing a serious disease, prioritizing the unvaccinated, according to Hebrew media reports.
The treatment, which was credited in the recovery of former US president Donald Trump, uses a combination of two antibodies to treat those sick with the virus and as a preventive measure to help inoculate those still healthy, according to the company.