US FDA approves higher temperature storage for Pfizer vaccine

3 minute read

And Australian guidelines taskforce says consider tocilizumab for adults hospitalised with COVID-19 on oxygen.

Welcome to The Medical Republic’s COVID Catch-Up.

It’s the day’s COVID-19 news in one convenient post. Email with any tips, comments or feedback.

26 February

The US Food and Drug Administration says the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine no longer needs to be stored exclusively in ultra-low temperatures, but frozen undiluted vials can be stored for up to two weeks in conventional pharmaceutical freezers.
The announcement comes after Pfizer filed an application earlier this week with data to support the stability and efficacy of their vaccine even when stored for a period of time at higher temperatures than the -80ºC to -60ºC previously required.
No update yet from Australia’s TGA about whether this ruling will apply here.

Tocilizumab should be considered for use in adults with COVID-19 who need supplemental oxygen and who have evidence of systemic inflammation, says Australia’s National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce.
In its latest update to the COVID-19 ‘living guidelines’, the taskforce noted data from two international randomised controlled trials which suggested the monoclonal antibody – which inhibits production of C-reactive protein – reduces the risk of death in adults hospitalised with COVID-19.
The taskforce advised against use of the antivirals sofosbuvir-daclatasvir, and the anti-thrombotic agent sulodexide, except in the context of clinical trials.

Significantly more Australians got vaccinated against influenza during 2020 and the pandemic compared to the previous year, and were also vaccinated earlier than usual, research has found.
A paper published in Communicable Diseases Intelligence reported that influenza vaccination rates were 4.2 percentage points higher in children aged six months to five years, and six percentage points higher in adults aged 65 years and older, compared to 2019. Uptake of influenza vaccine was also higher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults.
The study also noted that the influenza vaccination program in 2020 started earlier and peaked several weeks earlier than in 2019, which they attributed to early roll-out in response to the pandemic.

While New South Wales’ seven new cases look shocking, they’re all returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
Here are the latest confirmed COVID-19 infection numbers from around Australia to 9pm Thursday:
National – 28,947 with 909 deaths
ACT – 118 (0)
NSW – 5162 (7)
NT – 104 (0)
QLD – 1324 (1)
SA – 613 (0)
TAS – 234 (0)
VIC – 20,479 (0)
WA – 913 (0)

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