Understand the COVID19 Cold Supply Chain Comprehensively
The good news is now out, bringing a sigh of relief to people worldwide. It signals that the COVID19 pandemic will end soon, and normalcy will return to people's lives.
Two global drug companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have announced their successful completion of developing Coronavirus vaccines.
But the news also comes with a challenge--storing the vaccines at freezing temperatures. According to the public domain's available information, Pfizer's vaccine should be stored at minus 80 degrees C (colder than Antarctica's winters). As such, healthcare facility owners will have to invest in an ultra-low temperature freezer to store the vaccine without damaging it. Likewise, Moderna's vaccine needs to be stored at freezing temperatures, but at minus 20 degrees C. As such, it does not mandate the usage of an ultra-low temperature freezer for storing; a regular pharmaceutical freezer will work well.
But transportation will not be that easy, it will pose challenges. The vaccines will be produced in one country, and they will have to be shipped to another country. The vaccines will have to go from the logistics hub to the logistics hub before landing at healthcare facilities, from where they will be administered to people.
So, let us understand how the COVID19 vaccine cold supply chain will work:
The vaccines will be packed in vials, and each will contain about five doses, which will be diluted with standard pharmaceutical-grade saline solution. The vials will be placed in trays of around 100, and these trays will be stacked in freezer boxers, commonly known as "shippers".
The vaccines are based on a new technique that involves messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules covered in a lipid nanoparticle, which is very fragile and can get destroyed very easily. So, the vaccines have to be stored in freezing temperatures to prevent them from damaging and preserving their potency.
The boxes in which the vaccines will be stored are equipped with temperature control mechanisms, with digital trackers to monitor the box temperature continuously. The capacity of such freezer boxes is between 1,000 to 5,000 doses. Dry ice is used in insulated wall panels to keep the interiors of the boxes cold.
Moving the Boxes to Storage
The pre-packed freezer boxes will be shipped to a centralized depot, where they will be tested for quality control purposes. The shipment will involve using trucks and planes equipped with freezers to maintain the stringent temperature environment.
Once the vaccine batches get approval, they will be shifted to storage freezers, where they will be kept maintaining the necessary temperature mandated by the producers.
The subsequent phase--transporting the vaccines through the road for administering to people--is the most challenging.
The vaccines will be transported to hospitals and healthcare facilities from the centralized depots.
The vaccines should be defrosted before using, and the process takes several hours. The vaccine will be administered as a normal intramuscular injection in the arm.
It is needless to say that distributing the vaccines across the globe falls on logistics companies.
Such companies are working on establishing the necessary infrastructure to distribute the vaccines across the globe properly. Besides, they are also building and training teams to handle the distribution process effectively. In this way, logistics companies can ensure quick distribution of the vaccines worldwide.
Logistics players worldwide are working with government, health authorities, and NGOs to formulate effective strategies to access the global shipping network, local warehousing capacity, and handle the likely logistics challenges.
Role of the Governments
In the COVID19 vaccine distribution process, the government has to play the most impactful role. Without strong government support, effective vaccine distribution will not be possible.
Governments should build reliable public and private partnerships and safe and sophisticated supply chains to handle vaccine distribution effectively. In this way, the challenges involved in the distribution process can be effectively tackled.
Besides, it will also help logistic companies to build the necessary infrastructure to handle any unforeseen crisis during distribution.
Why Need Ultra Cold Freezers?
In the entire distribution channel, what is required are ultra-low temperature freezers. And the reason is pretty straightforward--the vaccines have to be kept at freezing temperatures.
There has to be an adequate number of ultra-low temperature freezers along the distribution channel to ease the vaccines' wide-scale administration. It is needless to say that mass vaccination will be hard to achieve if sufficient freezers of the type are not available.
The point of concern is that such freezers are not already available in hospitals, pharmacies, and private doctor chambers. So, the only way to deal with the problem is to purchase such freezers for storing the vaccines.
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