Pharmaceutical Cold Chain, Vaccine Storage, and High Speed Doors

Due to the make-up of Covid-19 vaccines and other pharmaceuticals, it’s critical to store and transport them in cold temperatures to ensure their effectiveness. Let’s take a look at how maintaining the cold chain with proper equipment, like high speed doors, plays a large role in the pharmaceutical industry.

Vaccine Storage and the Cold Chain

While most vaccines can be stored between 2 and 8 degrees C, which is the equivalent to a refrigerator, two COVID vaccines must be stored at substantially colder temperatures. The Moderna vaccine must be kept at about minus 20 degrees C (minus 4 degrees F), while the Pfizer vaccine needs to remain at minus 70 degrees C (minus 94 degrees F). Increased urgency meant there wasn't time to add non-reactive elements to the vaccine to increase storage temperatures like most other vaccines. Once thawed in a refrigerator, the Moderna vaccine must be used within 30 days and the Pfizer vaccine must be used within 5 days.1

The cold chain challenge is now in the hands of pharmaceutical manufacturers, storage facilities, hospitals, health centers, retail pharmacies and all of the logistics operations that connect them. There are strict guidelines on handling these vaccines every step of the way.

Dry ice and specialized carrying cases are some of the most talked about ways to transport and store these vaccines. But when it comes to the cold chain within pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities and storage facilities, one of the best ways to ensure a superior cold chain is with high-speed doors.

More Speed Means Colder Freezers

Standard high speed doors are not engineered to provide insulation value, with operating speed being the most important feature. Operating at 80” per second, the bi-parting Barrier Glider ensures pallets of vaccines can be moved in and out of a freezer environment quickly and efficiently. At 3” thick, the Barrier Glider uses the Thermal-Flex Sealing System to maintain environmental separation up to minus 20 degrees F. Battling convection concerns is the primary advantage of this door type and it makes for an excellent solution for facilities storing pharmaceuticals.

In contrast, traditional heavy doors with excellent R-values typically move very slowly. These doors are good for long-term storage. However, for pharmaceuticals with high demand, temporary storage that requires multiple entries for ongoing shipments make slow-moving doors a poor choice.

In locations that lack cold storage warehouses and pharmaceutical storage, high speed freezer doors can play an important role in maintaining the minus 20 degrees F threshold required for specific pharmaceuticals. In these traditional refrigeration areas, high speed doors will be the best option for high-turnover products.

Operating with Medicines and Vaccines in Ultracold Storage

Today, more than ever, there is a real premium on facilities that can handle temperature-sensitive medications and products that require ultracold storage space. Some distributors and shippers are building refrigerator and freezer farms in response to this challenge. For example, UPS has two giant freezer farms that can store pharmaceuticals at temperatures up to minus 80 degrees C.2

While high speed freezer doors can help separate a wide range of temperatures, they don’t work as effectively when temperatures dip colder than minus 29 degrees C. Traditional, slow-moving freezer doors are likely a better candidate in these environments.

Keeping COVID Vaccine Cold with High Speed Doors

The COVID-19 vaccines will hopefully usher in a more familiar way of life in America and across the globe. Logistics operations play an important role in helping maintain the effectiveness of these vaccines and all pharmaceuticals on a daily basis. With the help of high speed, cold storage doors, we can help ensure effective, safe distribution of the vaccine.

Sources:
1 – Scientific American
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-covid-cold-chain-how-a-vaccine-will-get-to-you/ 

2 – Pharmacy Practice News
https://www.pharmacypracticenews.com/Covid-19/Article/12-20/Pharmacists-Prepare-for-COVID-19-Vaccine-Cold-Chain-Challenges/61251 

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