Global pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna are close to distributing their vaccines, but transporting them requires freezing temperatures, with Pfizer’s vaccine requiring temperatures as low as minus 70 degrees Celsius.
Global logistics companies are now under pressure to deliver them around the world safely.
Korean Air has established a special task force just for vaccine transportation, dedicated to examining and preparing equipment for the upcoming months, or hopefully even sooner.
“We received a certificate called CEIV-Pharma from the International Air Transport Association in June last year, which focused on maintaining temperatures of medical products. That’s why we have set up a supervisory system for the entire process of transporting cargo.”
But what happens if the vaccines need to be stored for longer after arrival?
One cold chain firm in Pyeongtaek is capable of storing the drugs at sub-zero temperatures by using Liquefied Natural Gas.
Their cold storage facility can store the drugs at lower than minus 70 degrees Celsius for as long as needed.
“Vaccines can be stored here at temperatures lower than minus 82 degrees Celsius.
But the real challenge? Keeping them at such cold temperatures during distribution.”
“To keep the correct temperature, there should be settings that can control the temperature from the departure to the destination. Since a large amount of vaccines are expected to arrive, large-scale storage is needed to provide vaccines to our citizens.
The former KCDC director Dr. Jung Ki-suck says hospitals in South Korea are ready to receive these vaccines.
“Pfizer says they will ship their own storage equipment along with their vaccines, I think we will be okay to handle them. If that’s difficult, each hospital has a load of liquid nitrogen, so they can store it in the container, but of course the liquid nitrogen is mainly at the large hospitals.”
He added that there are still much concerns about maintaining that minus 70 degrees temperature while giving people the vaccine.
However, he said vaccines could be given at a small number of central hospitals first.
Choi Won-jong, Arirang News.