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Cold Chain Storage has Improved Thanks to COVID-19

by Eric
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The Covid-19 global pandemic has spurred a number of technological innovations, particularly in cold chain storage. The term cold chain storage refers to supply chains that operate in controlled low-temperature environments. Cold chain storage is very important in a variety of industries including the food and beverage, aerospace, manufacturing, and healthcare industries.

Cold chain storage has been particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure the safe transport of vaccines to countries around the world. That’s because while each Covid-19 vaccine has specific storage requirements, they all have one thing in common: They must all be kept at extremely cold temperatures in order not to degrade.

Specifically, Covid-19 vaccines must be stored at a temperature of about -70 degrees Celsius, or -94 degrees Fahrenheit while being transported, and at about two to eight degrees Celsius or 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit when administered.

Cold Chain Storage for Covid-19 Vaccines:

Because these vaccines must be transported and stored at low temperatures, many countries are trying to come up with strategies to transport and administer vaccines to populations safely and effectively. Manufacturers have also been working on ways to make thermostable forms of vaccines, but those efforts have not yet been successful.

One of the key reasons why creating reliable cold chain storage systems is so important is because it allows vaccines to be kept for longer periods of time without expiring. The Pfizer-Biotech vaccine, for example, can be kept until its expiration date if stored at temperatures between -60 to -80 degrees Celsius. However, if it is stored at temperatures between -15 to -25 degrees Celsius, it can only be kept for up to two weeks.

Needless to say, there are strong incentives to find cold chain storage solutions that are effective in order to keep vaccines safe throughout transit and keep them from expiring. Developing countries, in particular, that have less sophisticated cold chain storage technologies in place are looking for ways to set up supply chain operations that can keep vaccines at optimal temperatures.

Different Steps in the Cold Chain Storage Supply Chain:

The specific cold chain storage supply procedures vary by country and depend on whether private companies, governments, or NGOs are providing the vaccines. In the case of public and private sector supply chains, vaccines flow through customs and next into national warehouses. From those warehouses, the vaccines are distributed to regional vaccine storage centers.

Next, the vaccines are distributed to communities on the city and town level to country medical stores. Finally, the vaccines are delivered to patient-facing hospitals, healthcare institutions, and health facilities. They are then administered to patients from these locations.

The cold chain storage for vaccines when they are being distributed by private companies is quite different. They must, of course, still pass through customs, but are then delivered to warehouses often owned by NGOs. They then pass to social franchise facilities.

The vaccines can then be distributed to patients from these facilities, or through outreach trips to communities that may not be able to easily access these facilities. As you can see, private companies often rely on NGOs ’ cold chain storage infrastructure to get their vaccines to the public. Conversely, many NGOs use private distributors and private warehouses in their cold chain storage. The vaccines then sometimes pass through wholesalers, pharmacists or chemists, faith-based organizations, and then to patients.

It’s important to understand the structures of these different supply chains in order to understand how different countries are innovating cold chain storage processes. For example, trucks are used to transport vaccines at many points in the cold chain. Developed countries often have technologically sophisticated refrigerated trucks that can reliably keep vaccines at low temperatures. Read more about Some effective tips to boost your sales.

In developing countries, conventional trucks are often used to transport vaccines since refrigerated trucks aren’t always available. Some developing countries have made it a priority to obtain refrigerated trucks to improve their cold chain storage.

After vaccines pass through customs and the port of entry into a country, they typically arrive at a medical facility where they are sorted and split up into different groups to be prepared for transfer to other regions. Ideally, the vaccines continue to be stored in the original manufacturer’s packaging which keeps them at low temperatures. If the packaging has been damaged in any way, alternative cold storage technologies must be employed.

Cold Chain Storage Technologies:

The current cold storage technology in developing countries is primarily concentrated in refrigeration that provides two to eight degrees Celsius temperatures. However, UCC freezers can provide temperatures of -70 degrees, which is better suited to storing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Many developing countries don’t have large capacity UCC freezers.

Many countries have increased their capacity for UCC freezers. Others are attempting to do so but are encountering obstacles, which include limited funding for installation and a shortage of talent and manufacturers to install the freezers now when they are in high demand.

As a result, some developing countries have begun using dry ice as an alternative to cold storage technology. Challenges to this strategy include training personnel on how to use it properly, securing adequate supplies of dry ice, and potentially producing dry ice for healthcare use.

A useful technique to address potential issues in cold chain storage is data loggers. Data loggers are devices that collect environmental data such as humidity, air pressure, or temperature, according to Dickson. Data loggers can be used to measure the temperature of various cold chain storage devices or facilities to ensure vaccines are being stored at optimal temperatures.

As a result, many countries and companies are investing in data logging solutions to ensure reliable cold chain storage. Implementing data loggers can also be an effective way to meet regulatory requirements for vaccine storage. Many Wall Street investors are also excited about the investment opportunities that cold chain storage solutions present.

Given these investments that are now being made in cold chain storage technology, it seems that the industry has a bright future. Tools that facilitate cold storage such as various freezer and refrigeration technologies, as well as data loggers, are likely to grow in the future given the high demand for them in many countries.

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