Super-Cooled COVID-19 Vaccine will be a logistics nightmare
With the many COVID-19 vaccines currently undergoing development, a few are in the class of new bio-genetic pharmaceuticals and require constant temperatures as low as -80°C( -112°F). These mRNA vaccines are among the most advanced potential vaccine with 33 immunisation shots currently being tested on humans. Should one of these super-cooled vaccines be successful, there will be a massive logistical challenge to distribute from manufacturing sites to the developing world.
Deutsche Post said that distribution of a vaccine of this type across large parts of Africa, South America and Asia would require extraordinary measures to keep deliveries of so-called mRNA vaccines refrigerated.
As this challenge has been recognized, the companies working on mRNA vaccines, which include Moderna Inc and CureVAC, are exploring ways in which they can make the vaccine last longer while in transit.
However, upgrading the cold storage and cold chain logistics infrastructure in the regions outside of the 25 most advanced countries is going to pose a significant challenge. It’s also unfortunate that almost 1/3 of the worlds global population are located in these challenging areas.
Moderna says that it expects their mRNA vaccine to be stored at -20°C (-4°F) and after thawing to be kept at between 2°C (35°F) and -8°C (17°F) for about a week.
Translate Bio Inc say they are working on its vaccine so that it can be shipped and stored at less extreme temperatures than -80°C (-112°F).
CureVac says that its vaccine will likely be stored in a regular fridge and that it was confident final data on durability would be “competitive”.
The problem is, however, even at temperatures of only -8°C(17°F) only about 70% of the world’s population would have access, with large areas of Africa missing out.
It is anticipated when a viable vaccine becomes available, that 10 billion doses will need to be distributed across the globe, including regions that have no road network. Innovative technologies such as Isobar could help, but many of these have been developed with existing traditional vaccines in mind. These only require temperatures of between 2°C (35°F) and 8°C (46°F)
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