It’s been over a year since the world has started a battle with an invisible yet lethal enemy known as COVID-19. Fortunately, the ongoing process of vaccination on a worldwide level brings countries one step closer to winning the battle.
Unlike other vaccines, the ones manufactured for protection against COVID-19 have to be stored at below-zero temperatures. This in turn has made the transportation and storage difficult on a global scale. However, scientists have been able to buy dry ice to create specialist dry ice boxes that are able to maintain below freezing temperatures during and after transportation of the vaccines. The use of messenger RNA (mRNA) is what imposes such conditions.
Vaccines derived from mRNA are manufactured much faster, but these are easily destroyed. Therefore, COVID-19 vaccines must be stored in special freezers not only in medical facilities but during transport as well.
The following features make a COVID immunotherapy freezer critical in vaccine distribution and storage.
The capacity of Covid-19 immunotherapy freezers is of essential importance in the choice of such appliances, as it affects the number of materials to be stored. The larger the volume of the freezer, the more biological materials can be stored. Nevertheless, the price and cost of operation are higher when compared to the smaller models.
In order to reduce physical footprint, labs are supposed to invest in ultra-low temperature freezers, taking up as little space as possible. These appliances are available in an upright and chest design. The upright models are preferred by most laboratories because of their large volume. Upright freezers are recommended for vaccine storage, as these can store a higher number of vials.
Another vital feature of COVID-19 immunotherapy freezers is their energy efficiency. These appliances are equipped with gasket seals, double doors, and thermal insulation made from polyurethane. The role of insulation is to maintain temperature uniformity between -10 ˚C and -80˚C in order for biological materials not to sustain damage.
Nevertheless, the energy consumption of ultra-low temperature freezers depends on the type of refrigerant and compressor. Nowadays, the largest part of compressors is designed to be energy-efficient in order to minimize carbon footprint. Conversely, the refrigerants used in these appliances tend to contain no harmful greenhouse gases like hydroclorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Click here to check out an overview of greenhouse gases.
An indispensable feature of COVID-19 immunotherapy freezers is temperature uniformity. Given the fragile nature of COVID-19 vaccines, these must be stored at ultra-low temperatures to remain viable. Prior to being used for immunization, the vaccines are never supposed to experience a change in storage temperature, as their elements would degrade.
Moreover, the storage requirements differ across manufacturers due to their specific formulation of these vaccines. For instance, the Pfizer vaccine boasts a shelf life of six months, as long as it’s stored in an ultra-low temperature freezer at a minimum of -60 ˚C to -80˚C. Once removed from the fridge, it can be kept at a higher temperature, between 2˚C and 25˚C, only two hours before dilution.
The Moderna vaccine, on the other hand, can be stored at a temperature between -25˚C and -15˚C. Its shelf life is seven months, provided the storage requirements are adhered to. The moment the Moderna vaccine is removed from the refrigerator, it can be kept at a temperature no lower than 2˚C and no higher than 25˚C for twelve hours.
The cold chain should be disrupted neither during transport nor in the course of storage. Therefore, it’s important for these freezers to come with numerous inner doors, not just a single door for the entire appliance. Consequently, only the vaccines in a particular storage shelf will be affected when the door opens, not all vials.
Additionally, the cooling technology of COVID-19 immunotherapy freezers should provide backup cooling. In the event of electrical supply disruption, the samples won’t be compromised. The backup cooling system is either liquefied nitrogen or carbon dioxide. The former is capable of maintaining a temperature of -80˚C, whereas the latter of -70˚C. Visit this link, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/what-liquid-nitrogen-when-it-deadly-n1256090, to learn more about liquid nitrogen.
Another must-have feature of COVID-19 immunotherapy freezers is the safety system. These appliances are armed with a variety of audible and visible alarm systems to trigger a change in temperature. For instance, the alarm system is responsible for warning individuals when the temperature is either higher or lower than usual.
Furthermore, the alarm sounds when there is a power failure or the door is ajar. It also signalizes low battery, system failure, or filter blockage. The role of the alarm system is to keep the materials inside the freezer absolutely safe and protected to prevent degradation. The exterior and interior of these appliances are made from stainless steel, which keeps the materials safe by preventing corrosion.
The bottom line
Immunization is undeniably the only way out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order for vaccines to be effective, cold chain deployment challenges need to be overcome.
ULT freezers are the only solution!