Lack of freezers may hinder COVID-19 vaccine supply chain

Two leading COVID-19 vaccines in late-stage testing must be stored at ultracold temperatures, but hospitals, pharmacies and physicians' offices expected to be vaccination sites have few freezers to accommodate such temperatures, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Vaccines, similar to dairy or meat products, need to be kept within certain temperature ranges to maintain their chemical structures. The two COVID-19 vaccines farthest along in testing, one from Pfizer and BioNTech and the other from Moderna, use a gene-based technology that requires the shots to be stored at subzero temperatures. 

Public health experts told the Journal they are concerned that a lack of ultracold freezers will hamper the national vaccine supply chain. Many hospitals don't have the space or mechanical requirements to store vaccines at subzero temperatures because most drugs and vaccines don't need them, industry experts told the Journal

Logistics, public health and drug-industry experts are working quickly to develop a cold-storage supply chain. Logistics companies are also building facilities to house hundreds of mobile cold-storage units, called freezer farms, according to the Journal

Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health plans to buy at least 15 special freezers, Brian Swift, chief pharmacy officer, told the Journal

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