Storing Coronavirus Vaccines at The Right Temperature- A Big Challenge for theUSA

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Storing Coronavirus Vaccines at The Right Temperature- A Big Challenge for the USA

In the US, significant challenges have emerged in storing Coronavirus vaccines at freezing temperatures. Know the preparations to mitigate the challenges.

Reputed drug companies readying COVID19 vaccines is good news; bringing a ray of hope for lives to return to normalcy. The fact remains that some challenges are also associated with it. And one of the challenges is keeping the vaccines at minus degrees temperatures. Storing Coronavirus vaccines at the right temperature – a big challenge for the USA.

How to store vaccines at ideal temperatures

Ideally, the vaccines should be kept at -80 degrees C; from bottling to administration to people. But that will not be that easy.

Vaccines will have to be transported across countries, from production facilities to logistics hubs to hospitals and pharmacies. To accomplish adequate transportation; trucks and planes will have to be fitted with freezers. Supply chain management for the vaccines will have to meet the freezing temperature requirements to preserve the vaccines. 

According to the prevailing market conditions; most of the specialized freezers’ prices are within the USD 7,000 to USD 15,000 range in the USA. 

In the meantime, two drug majors, Pfizer and Moderna, have announced the development of COVID19 vaccines; bringing a sigh of relief across the world. According to the information available in the public domain; Pfizer’s vaccine should be kept at -80 degrees C, and Moderna’s at -20 degrees C.

All healthcare facilities should invest in an ultra-low temperature freezer to store the vaccines to administer to people. Already, there has been a surge of around 50 per cent in the sales of such freezers in the US.

Cold Chain

The vaccines will have to be shipped far and wide, maintaining the requisite temperature. According to the indications in place; the first vaccine dosages will be administered in California and everywhere else by late December 2020.

In the USA, preparations for handling the vaccines have begun, and the cold chain infrastructure is undergoing upgrades; to maintain the requisite temperature. There is also an issue with the local health authorities experienced in handling refrigerated vaccines; with little or no experience with ultra-low temperature vaccines. So, the local authorities call for some training on handling such refrigerators.

The government is conducting many webinars to educate the local health authorities; on the right cold-chain management for the vaccines to impart the necessary knowledge. The government and other bodies are also providing knowledge on storing and handling the vaccines; purchasing ultra-low temperature freezers, and other essential aspects like creating a backup storage capability for emergency purposes.

In California, the government is grappling with the population segment to priority in getting the first vaccinations. California is a big state with a huge population; so, the government must set a strategic communication plan to address the problem and the cold chain issues.

However, California has formulated a robust vaccine roll-out plan, with comprehensive infrastructure and an expert task force. Despite the preparations, California’s situation is just the same as in any other state. It cannot make 100 per cent right decisions because more vaccines haven’t been approved yet.

Plan of distribution in California

According to the information available publicly; Alameda County, in California, is putting in place a planned vaccine distribution strategy to ensure that high risk and highly impacted populations get priority in the vaccination process. According to the plan, the administration will work closely with health care providers to seek input from community service providers and representatives of populations and neighbourhoods to determine the population’s priority segment. The goal also involves building trust with communities, disseminate accurate and timely information. Besides, community flu clinics are being used as practice models in determining what could be needed for mass COVID-19 vaccination. It will be helpful to figure out the COVID19 vaccine storage, handling, and distribution framework.

Healthcare facilities in the US face shipping delays for ultra-cold freezers because there has been a spurt in the purchases. 

Although Moderna’sModerna’s vaccine needs -30 degrees C, cold freezer is unnecessary for storing its vaccines; pharmaceutical grade refrigerators will suffice. But the issue is that there may not be enough such freezers due to the heavy rush.

However, mass vaccination is not likely to happen before spring, so, eventually, the supply of cold and ultra-cold freezers should be able to catch up with demand.

Milla Jones

Mila Jones is a Senior Business Consultant, with rich experience in the domains of technology consulting and strategy.

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