How dry ice makers are preparing for COVID-19 vaccine approval

Demand for dry ice has skyrocketed as the U.S. prepares to authorize its first COVID-19 vaccines, some of which have to be kept at ultra-low temperatures, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Pfizer's vaccine, which an FDA committee is voting on whether to approve Dec. 10, must be shipped and stored at minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit. Brad Dunn, vice president of dry ice company Cee Kay Supply in Kansas City, Mo., told the Journal that he is receiving calls from public health departments, medical supply and logisitcs companies planning to ship Pfizer's vaccine. 

In preparation, Mr. Dunn said he bought a machine in November to boost the volume of dry ice pellets his company can produce and added insulated tanks to store more carbon dioxide, which is what makes dry ice. The company has also purchased more than 100 industrial coolers to transport about $30,000 worth of dry ice. 

UPS said in November that it increased  dry ice production capacity at its facilities in the U.S. and Canada to 1,200 pounds an hour, the Journal reported. Pfizer has also purchased equipment to make dry ice at its facilities in Kalamazoo, Mich., and Pleasant Prairie, Wis. 

Reliant Dry Ice, a Texas-based dry ice maker, has eight of its plants running 24/7 because of high demand from food shippers, the Journal reported. Demand for dry ice to ship food has increased during the pandemic as more people order food online. 

Mr. Dunn told the Journal dry ice orders for food shipping has risen by 50 percent this year compared to 2019. Daniel Koerner, a co-owner of Massachusetts-based American Dry Ice Corp., told the Journal he may have to ration supplies of dry ice to food companies next year to prioritize vaccine distributors. 

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