Within recent months, COVID-19 has completely upended our personal and professional lives. However, luckily, it seems as if widespread vaccination is on the horizon. And, out of the handful of vaccines that are in development, the two closest to being released will require specific temperatures in order to be effective. As a result, the demand for ultra-low temperature freezers (ULT freezers) is beginning to skyrocket.
Firstly, What are ULT Freezers?
An ultra-low temperature freezer is a refrigerator that has a typical cooling range of -45 to -86°C (-49° to -122°F). Many facilities use ULTs everyday, such as hospitals and labs. These units are mostly used for research purposes. Therefore, facilities being called on to distribute the vaccines are not equipped with them. Such facilities are rushing to buy them in order to prepare for the COVID vaccine.
So, why are ULT freezers in high demand?
The Vaccine Cold Chain
Simply put, the cold chain is a system in which each party responsible for handling the vaccine (manufacturer, transporter, administrator) keeps it under the necessary conditions. While this may seem simple, the logistics are quite complicated. Breaking the cold chain of any vaccines can be devastating to public health.
The Problem: COVID-19 Vaccine Temperature Requirements
Generally, vaccines can be stored at regular refrigerator temperatures. That temperature is around 2°C (35°F). However, the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer requires a whopping -70°C (-94°F).
So, how will these millions of vaccines wind up in clinics around the world? Obviously, in order to deliver the vaccine successfully, carriers must employ an intricate system of vaccine storage and handling practices. Without precisely the right temperatures or conditions, the vaccine can be compromised.
Logistics companies such as UPS are creating ULT freezer farms near transportation hubs in the US and Europe. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are also bulking up their capacities. However, ULT unit manufacturing can only go so fast. Just like the delay on mask and ventilator manufacturing at the beginning of the pandemic, facilities that do not have them are rushing to get on a backorder list.
For facilities that do have ULT freezers, they also have work to do.
Get Your ULT Freezer Vaccine-Ready
At Cryostar, we understand the need for functional lab equipment. For decades, we’ve been providing labs of all industries with equipment rentals, repairs and more. Within the scientific and medical communities, well-maintained lab equipment is vital. And, this is especially true for maintaining ULT freezers for effective vaccine transportation and administration.
ULT Freezer Maintenance from Cryostar
Regardless of what aspect of the cold chain you are responsible for, you will need to be prepared with functioning equipment. While Pfizer and Moderna will continue to work on new vaccines formulations, we need the effective vaccine immediately. Unfortunately, this means that the cold chain must be carefully maintained.
The first necessary step for any hospital or lab is to have your unit repaired and maintained. These simple procedures will extend the life of your ULT freezer and ensure that it is running at its maximum efficiency.
Some of the work performed by our factory trained technicians includes:
- Repairing or replacing freezer gaskets for a better seal
- Disinfecting and decontaminating the freezer to be used specifically for the COVID-19 vaccine
- Testing and calibrating digital alarms and indicators for accuracy
- Cleaning or replacing of filters, vents, air intakes, etc
- Repairing condensers
Simple Preventative Maintenance Tips
- Regularly brush away loose snow and ice with a hand brush
- Remove the inner doors to be defrosted and cleaned
- Keep the interior stocked to at least 30% at all times
- Open the doors no longer than absolutely necessary
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