Pfizer is working around the clock to ensure an efficient and speedy distribution of its potential COVID-19 vaccine, pending emergency use authorization in the United States. To do so, it has developed an innovative packaging and storage solution that just might help save the world.
The challenge: Beyond developing a vaccine in the shortest time frame ever attempted, researchers at Pfizer must ensure that hundreds of millions of vials of its potential COVID-19 vaccine are kept frozen at extreme temperatures (-70 degrees Celsius) as they are shipped across the globe.
The solution: Pfizer got to work designing, engineering and manufacturing temperature-controlled thermal shippers that use dry ice to maintain the required temperature until the point of vaccination.
Once in transit: Pfizer will monitor GPS-enabled thermal sensors in every thermal shipper from a control tower, which will track the location and temperature of each vaccine shipment along its preset route. That means Pfizer can prevent unwanted deviations before they happen.
Once on site: After arriving at the points of use, providers will have three options for storage:
- Ultralow temperature freezers, which are commercially available now and can extend shelf life for up to six months.
- Refrigeration units commonly available in hospitals, which can safely store the vaccine for up to five days at 2–8 degrees Celsius.
- The same Pfizer thermal shippers that carry doses during shipping; these can serve as temporary storage units for up to 15 days as long as they are refilled with dry ice.
The last words: “We have developed detailed logistical plans and innovative tools to support effective vaccine transport, storage and continuous temperature monitoring. Leveraging those resources and based on our track record, we are very confident in our ability to distribute large quantities of our potential COVID-19 vaccine to customers with different infrastructures in all parts of the country and all markets across the globe,” said Pfizer Vice President, BioPharma Global Supply Chain Tanya Alcorn.
“Pfizer is proving yet again that manufacturers’ ingenuity knows no bounds. The progress they have made on a vaccine alone is incredible, and the innovative way they have now addressed these distribution challenges is impressive. It shows manufacturers’ unwavering commitment to saving lives and helping to lead America out of this crisis,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.