With nearly 14 billion vaccines at stake, the COVID-19 vaccine has extreme temperature requirements to ensure efficacy
Stirling Ultracold, innovative developer and manufacturer of ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers for life science and biopharma research, has announced it is the only company that offers commercially available freezers capable of storing any COVID-19 vaccine candidate requiring ultra-low temperature (ULT) storage during the last mile delivery.
The WHO recently reported that 2.8 million vaccines were lost in five countries owing to cold chain failures, and less than 10% of countries met WHO recommendations for effective vaccine management practices. Stirling Ultracold recognises just how devastating this magnitude of loss would be for a COVID-19 vaccine.
With more than 40 COVID-19 vaccines in human testing worldwide, and an expected 14 billion vaccines needed to facilitate a global vaccination, the stakes are high when it comes to safe storage and distribution.
To compound the issue further, early shipments of these vaccines will require ultra-low temperature (ULT) storage. Promising vaccine contenders, such as Pfizer and Moderna, have already reported storage temperature requirements ranging from -20 °C to -80 °C (-4 °F to -112 °F).
Traditional methods for ULT storage, such as dry ice and liquid nitrogen, are both currently in short supply and require specialty personal protective equipment (PPE) and training for proper handling, making them an unreliable and risky source for transporting and storing a COVID-19 vaccine at the scale that’s needed.
Stirling Ultracold freezers are the only commercially available freezers to run the ULT gamut from -20 °C to -86 °C in a single system, and will be an integral asset in safely storing and administering COVID-19 vaccines once available.
“Unfortunately, most clinics and healthcare providers do not have Ultra Low Temperature Freezers on hand, which threatens the last mile delivery of these vaccines for the patients who need them the most,” said Dusty Tenney, CEO, Stirling Ultracold.
“We understand that we’re in a unique position to be an integral part of a global public health effort, and we’re working around the clock to ensure vaccines will arrive to everyone safely and with as little product loss as possible.”
To support global preparedness, Stirling Ultracold is working directly with several pharmaceutical companies currently in COVID-19 vaccine development to build a fleet of ULT freezers capable of storing the approved vaccine once available, regardless of variable temperature stability requirements.
They are also working with the Department of Health for North Dakota, one of the four U.S. states tapped to model local COVID-19 vaccine preparedness, to ensure its communities are equipped with the most reliable ULT freezers available on the market.
“Global vaccine distribution preparedness will be key as we start to see vaccines safely making it through Phase III trials,” said George Gerhardt, emergency preparedness programme representative, State of North Dakota department of health.
“We understand how big of a responsibility it is to be tapped as only one of the four US states tasked with developing the most effective plan for rolling out vaccine distributions and have already begun mapping out what that will look like. Our main objective is to safely deliver the approved vaccine to our communities with as little loss as possible, and for that reason Ultra-Low Temperature storage will be an integral part of our strategy.”
International leaders tasked with COVID-19 preparedness responsibilities have also contacted Stirling Ultracold for immediate partnership with their portable ULT freezer solution. Health System partnerships with local biorepository facilities are also another way community leaders are finalising their local vaccine administration plans.
Infinity Biologix, a world renown genomics testing facility responsible for PCR-based testing for COVID-19 saliva kits for New Jersey, is Stirling Ultracold’s latest partnership. Infinity Biologix will be storing COVID-19 vaccines for New York Presbyterian Hospital.
“The urgency to create and approve a COVID-19 vaccine has been the main point of conversation as of late, but we’re getting to the stage of development where storage, logistics and distribution of an approved vaccine are now coming to the forefront,” said Robin Grimwood, President and Chief Operating Officer, Infinity Biologix.
“Reliability and consistency will be key when it comes to properly storing these precious vaccines at the temperature required. We’re grateful to have a trusted partner like Stirling Ultracold to help clinics and healthcare locations prepare for one of the largest vaccinations in history and serve their communities as effectively as possible.”
Additionally, less developed countries do not have the available infrastructure when it comes to the transportation and power needed to store and transport a vaccine to remote locations. This is where Stirling Ultracold has innovated to support nearly any country, with a solution that can plug into any 110-240 V outlet, worldwide, and can run on 12V DC power adapter, and is highly portable, weighing only 46 lb (21 kg).