Tackling the -80°C (-112°F) Hurdle

Published by Nick Barrowclough on

medical freezer

Translate Bio Inc. have teamed up with drug giant Sanofi to attempt to overcome the barrier that may hinder the eventual distribution of a viable COVID-19 vaccine. The mRNA (Messenger RNA) class of vaccines have been lauded as the possible solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, showing promising results in their first trials. However, the major drawback of these vaccines is their required storage temperature of -80C (-112F). This is a real problem for the cold chain logistics industry, especially when attempting to deliver vaccines to less developed parts of the world, and in last-mile delivery to remote areas.

Translate Bio are now working hard on a solution, a formulation of the vaccine that is less temperature sensitive, and doesn’t require freezers that go as low as -80°C (-112°F). This difficulty is being faced by all the major vaccine producers as the world faces the challenge. of distributing approximately 10 billion doses globally.

Both Moderna and Pfizer are looking into ways to prolong the life of their mRNA vaccines. Moderna have stated their vaccine candidate could last for three months in storage at 5°C (41°F) after defrosting.

Temperature Control and Cold Chain Logistics

The ability to distribute the vaccine worldwide and to remote areas will be vital in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Large parts of the world simply don’t have the basic infrastructure required to distribute non-temperature sensitive goods, let alone super cooled and sensitive mRNA vaccines. Even the developed world has limited capacity in this regard.

A COVID-19 vaccine is being seen as the best way to bring things back to normal and end the pandemic. But any vaccine solution, even a traditional one that requires cooler but not freezing temperatures, will still pose difficult. The sheer number of doses that will be needed, production, logistics, will be a massive undertaking. The worlds cold chain and temperature-controlled logistics companies are now preparing for when a viable vaccine is available. At the same time, the major drug companies are preparing to rapidly scale up their manufacturing capacities when needed.


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