Why do COVID-19 Vaccines need to Be Stored in Low Temperatures?
COVID19 vaccines are now in the stage of administration. And it shows that the pandemic days are now over. However, the vaccines come with a challenge—storing them at sub-zero temperatures environments.
Why Do Vaccines Need Freezing Temperature Environments?
Vaccines require shallow temperatures to remain potent. According to the Pan American Health Organization, a specialized health agency in the US, most vaccines require storage temperatures between -58 degrees F and -46 degrees F. But when it comes to the COVID19 vaccines, the temperature requirements are even lower.
While you need to store and ship Pfizer’s vaccine at a freezing temperature of -94 degrees F to maintain its potency, you can do the same with Moderna’s vaccine at -4 degrees F.
If you fail to maintain the temperature environment throughout the entire cold chain, the vaccines can degrade, making them useless for administration. You can take the vaccines out only at the final stage of their journey from the manufacturing facilities, the administration stage.
You can store Moderna’s vaccine up to 30 days in a standard refrigerator; and Pfizer’s vaccine up to five days.
But, it is still a secret why there is a difference in their storage temperatures. Many speculate that it could be due to the development and manufacturing processes.
Why COVID19 Vaccines Need Freezing Temperatures?
The freezing temperature requirement for the COVID19 vaccines is due to the mRNA technology on which they are based. As such, you need an ultra-low temperature freezer to store the vaccines. The technology makes the vaccines very fragile, necessitating freezing temperatures. If you expose them to warm temperatures, they will degrade and lose their potency. Since they are based on biological substances, you need to keep them in freezing temperatures to keep them potent. As scientists had to quickly develop the vaccines, they did not get enough time to test the vaccines at different temperatures.
What is an Ultra-Low Temperature Freezer?
You can understand what it is from its very name. An ultra-low temperature freezer is a cold-storage that can provide freezing temperatures, typically in the range of -45 degrees C to -86 degrees C. It is used for storing items that require such minus degree temperature, such as drugs, enzymes, chemicals, viruses, bacteria, cell preparations, vaccines, and tissue samples, etc.
You can see such freezers with different sizes and designs. If you want to buy such a freezer, your selection will depend on your laboratory’s available space and the storage capacity you need.
However, we are making some recommendations for choosing such a freezer. An upright freezer is ideal for frequent use as it enables you to access the interior components quickly. Besides, it also cools fast after you open and close the door. You can go for a chest freezer if you want to store items for the long term and use them less frequently. There are also table-top and under-bench freezer variants for you to choose from.
How to Choose an Ultra-Low Temperature Freezer?
By now, you must have come to know that you need an ultra-low temperature freezer that is of the utmost importance when it comes to storing COVID19 vaccines.
But, purchasing the right freezer is also essential. It would be best if you considered a slew of factors before you finalize a freezer for purchasing. The following are the factors:
Security is an essential factor to consider while purchasing an ultra-low temperature freezer. The freezer should make you ensure that the costly and valuable vaccines will be safe inside the freezer without any possibility of thefts. Therefore, select a freezer with an electronic lock and built-in temperature monitoring system to protect your vaccine stock from unauthorized access. Such a freezer also comes with thick and well-insulated inner walls that restrict any quick warm-up inside the unit.
Check whether the freezer you choose can maintain a stable internal temperature. Also, figure out its durability. Choose a freezer with robust inner doors with easy-to-maintain door gaskets to maintain a uniform and consistent temperature inside it.
As the unit’s temperature should not deviate from the prescribed range, you need to choose a unit with an automatic alarm system to alert your staff when the temperature does not remain within the range. If the inside temperature undergoes a fluctuation for any reason, the alarm will emit a signal. It will enable your staff to take corrective action. Temperature fluctuations pose a serious threat as they can damage the vaccines.
The matter is simple. You cannot store the temperature-sensitive COVID19 vaccines without an ultra-low temperature freezer. But, it is not the only requirement. It will help if you acquaint yourself with the reason behind the need for such a freezing temperature environment for the vaccines. It would help if you did not also fall behind in purchasing the right freezer for your laboratory. It will ensure reliable storage of the vaccines and instill confidence in you that you are running your laboratory efficiently.