Denmark’s Nordic Lab is a global provider of innovative freezers for low-temperature vaccine storage.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new demand for cold storage of vaccines. In order for vaccine distribution and administration programmes to be successful both regionally and globally, the supply chain is one of the single most important factors. If the supply chain fails, vaccines will be lost or become unusable, scheduled vaccinations will be postponed, and the whole programme will fail as a result.
As vaccines are rolled out in larger volumes, we have started to see intrinsic inefficiencies in the way the supply chain has been established. If we look at the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which must be stored at -70°C, the distribution is conducted via central hubs where the vaccines are stored in large freezers. From here, the vaccines are distributed to the end destination, or smaller distribution centres, in containers packed with dry ice. The vaccines must be used rapidly, otherwise they will lose their efficacy, unless a refill of dry ice or appropriate cold storage is available.
Vaccine storage and distribution challenges
At Nordic Lab we have seen a huge challenge from the beginning in the way the distribution has been set up, whether this is with Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca or any other vaccine which needs to be kept below 0°C. The existing setup will only work as long as there is a constant flow of vaccines available. In many places throughout the world, however, it will be very difficult to maintain this flow – especially in places with great physical distances between healthcare facilities, places where dry ice is not immediately accessible, and remote areas where it can be difficult to get access to the people who need to be vaccinated. The worst-case scenario in these instances is that vaccine doses could be lost or rendered ineffective.
We are seeing a growing demand for storing the vaccines locally at the vaccination centres at the required freezing temperature – whether this is -20°C, -25°C or -70°C, the process is the same. Once the vaccines are at the vaccination centre, they will need to be in storage for a longer period of time.
Beyond the pandemic
Looking ahead to the future, it is very likely that people will need to be re-vaccinated to boost their existing immunity or to protect them against new mutations. This will change the distribution setup completely, with an even greater demand for small-sized freezers to store the various vaccine types at the vaccination centres simultaneously.
It almost seems as though Nordic Lab’s freezers were developed for a situation exactly like this. The freezers perfectly meet the specific demands of storing COVID-19 vaccines. The company’s vision is to supply small and/or inexpensive freezers which can be used for many different applications, particularly in instances where space is a limiting factor or where there is not the need for storing a large number of samples. One additional advantage of these small freezers is that they are easy to handle: due to their small outer dimensions, they can be moved through any door, into an elevator, up a stairway or any other space which is difficult to access.
With these small freezers in place, we can bring temperature-controlled vaccine doses closer to the people, which – as would be the case with any other vaccination programme – is a game-changer. More people will be vaccinated faster, meaning that the world will move more quickly towards mass immunity to the virus and recovery from the pandemic.
The Nordic Lab range
Nordic Lab offers both upright freezers and chest freezers which are suitable for vaccine storage. Both will solve the task at hand just as effectively, so the decision between the two is more a matter of taste, space, funding and working procedure. Generally, the upright freezers are the most popular, but with the new demand for vaccines it can be a good idea to consider whether the chest freezer would be a better alternative for the application. No matter which type is selected, most Nordic Lab freezers can be used in laboratory settings, which makes them very convenient for staff to use.
No matter what cold storage application you might have in place, it is worthwhile to review whether a small-sized freezer would be a better alternative, given the benefits they offer over the more common large, heavy and expensive low-temperature freezers.
This article is from issue 17 of Health Europa. Click here to get your free subscription today.