UPS enhances its ultra-cold pharma capabilities in preparation for the massive distribution efforts for the coming COVID-19 vaccines.
As part of these enhancements, UPS Healthcare now can produce up to 544 kg of dry ice per hour in its US facilities to support the storage and transportation of cold chain products, such as frozen vaccines, in accordance with manufacturer storage requirements. So far of the five vaccine candidates (one Russian, one Chinese, two American, and one British) only the one from Moderna requires ultra-cold temperatures of -80 °C.
The increased production also allows UPS to make dry ice available for US and Canadian hospitals, clinics, and other points of care requiring dry ice to store vaccines locally. Dry ice will be sourced at UPS Worldport and can be available the next day.
An expected major spike in demand is causing logistics providers to plan for what some analysts fear may be a dry ice shortage, as pharmaceutical companies strategise getting hundreds of millions of their vaccine doses safely to communities around the US and internationally.
“Enhancing our dry ice production capabilities increases our supply chain agility and reliability immensely when it comes to handling complex vaccines for our customers,” says Wes Wheeler, president of UPS Healthcare.
“Healthcare facilities in Louisville, Dallas, and Ontario will ensure we have the capability to produce dry ice to sufficiently pack and replenish shipments as needed to keep products viable and effective.”
In addition to dry ice production, UPS will also launch, in collaboration with Stirling Ultracold, a joint effort to provide portable ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers. These portable freezers will be distributed and used in smaller point of care facilities requiring a more permanent solution for longer term freezer storage.
UPS will be working with Stirling to offer the Stirling ULT25 and Undercounter Model SU105 to thermally protect critical vaccines requiring ultra-low temperatures ranging anywhere from -20°C to -80°C.
“We are truly proud to partner with UPS in this critical effort,” says Dusty Tenney, CEO of Stirling. “As the leading manufacturer of small and portable ULT devices, Stirling Ultracold freezers integrate well with UPS Healthcare logistics to provide complete cold-chain of custody for COVID-19 vaccines from the drug manufacturers to medical facilities.
“This programme will help ensure vaccines remain effective next year, and for years to come, as future vaccines and biologics are developed to keep the world healthy and safe,” Tenney adds.