The world has been reeling under the COVID 19 pandemic, and come 2021, we see a bright light at the end of the dark tunnel. Two coronavirus vaccines, one from Pfizer-BioNtech and another from Moderna, have shown more than 90% effectiveness in clinical trials.
Countries will roll out the vaccines once the respective regulatory bodies approve them. But getting the vaccines into the hands of billions of people is indeed a daunting task for healthcare professionals.
One should know that vaccines are a boon if and only it is served cold to the masses. In other words, vaccines need to be stored at cold temperatures to prevent them from ruining before entering a human body.
This article will see how the COVID-19 vaccines have revolutionized the cold storage industry, which probably plays the biggest role in vaccines’ storage and safety. So, let us begin by knowing the temperature range of different COVID 19 vaccines,
Understanding the Temperature Range of Leading COVID 19 Vaccines
As mentioned above, Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine are good to go after getting excellent results in the clinical trials. Pfizer vaccine requires temperatures as low as -70°C for maintaining their potency. It should be noted that standard refrigerators in the healthcare centres cannot store these vaccines due to their limited capacity to freeze. A special type of refrigerator known as an ultra-low temperature freezer is needed to ensure these vaccines’ safety and storage.
It might be worth noting that Moderna’s vaccine only needs a temperature around -20°C while Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored and transported long term at normal fridge temperatures.
COVID 19 – A Blessing in Disguise to Create a New, Sustainable Cold Chain For Transporting Goods
While we have seen the significance of cold storage in storing vaccines, can it be used in other critical human areas? It seems like the answer is a resounding yes!. Cold storage can play a massive role in fields like agricultural production, transporting frozen foods, and also to prevent the spoilage of food items. Since most cold storages are temperature adjustable, they can be used to control the product’s moisture content being stored as well.
Cold Storage Role in Agricultural Production
No matter how great the quality of the yield produced, the per capita availability of fruits and vegetables will always depend upon its condition when the consumer receives it. Perishability often leads to high marketing costs, market gluts, price fluctuations, and other problems.
Having a cold storage facility goes a long way in removing the risk of distress sale to ensure better returns to the farmers.
It should also be noted that in advanced developing countries, over 90% of perishable agricultural and food products go through extensive integrated cold chains. In developing countries, most agro and food products face high levels of postharvest losses due to insufficient cold storage and cold chains.
Key Components in a Cold Chain
Cold Chain is a temperature-controlled supply chain, consisting of several elements that involve keeping items cold from point-of-manufacturing to the point of use. Let us discuss it one by one,
The packaging is designed to be energy efficient and secure, say an insulated shipping container for fresh seafood. This is done to safely tackle short periods of increased temperature as a means of risk reduction.
Monitoring the temperature of goods throughout the supply chain with tools all over the temperature data loggers. Based on the cargo, it may also be necessary to analyse other environmental parameters such as air quality.
Cold transport such as refrigerator trucks, refrigerator boxcars, reefer ships, and containers. It is often considered as the backbone of a cold-chain process.
Cold chains should pay particular attention to anything which can reduce the custom delays. It is a process of controlling custom paperwork to ensure it meets all known requirements.
The Cold storage facilities mainly consist of temperature-controlled warehouses. Goods are stored here before they are distributed to regional and sub-regional cold storage facilities by refrigerated vehicles.
The process of quality control and managing all kinds of quality failures comes under Quality Assurance. It is essential to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace and reduce overall operation costs. Without Quality Assurance, waste may become prevalent beyond a fair amount.
Delivery to end-customer and communication of storage requirements is of paramount importance in cold chain systems. This process also includes integration with the customer’s quality control process and managing all kinds of quality failures.
To Sum It Up
We have seen how cold-chain is of imminent importance for many sectors in human lives. One great thing about establishing cold chains for COVID immunization is that it can be later used for agricultural purposes and frozen food transportation. It would be really a double investment of sorts for all countries who are establishing it.
Moreover, for the sheer scale of cold chain requirements for a vaccine, it would be more productive to repurpose the current food distribution systems than to upscale the overall medical networlds.