Arthur Goudena, Marketing Manager of PHC Europe, explains how the company’s cold storage solutions are available to support COVID-19 vaccination campaigns across Europe
With some vaccines against COVID-19 approved and more under development, the next challenge for the healthcare industry and governments is effective mass production, storage and roll-out in public vaccination campaigns. The first vaccines in use include a select few that have been developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford Uni AstraZeneca and Gamaleya/’Sputnik V’.
These vaccines vary in many respects; not least in the physical conditions required to transport and store the vaccine. The vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech must be kept at -70°C, the Moderna-developed vaccine at -20°C, while the OxfordUni AstraZeneca and Gamaleya/’Sputnik V’ vaccine can both be stored at regular refrigerator temperatures. In particular, storing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at -70°C is essential, if the intention is to keep the batch for a prolonged period of time. Once thawed, the vaccines can only be stored for several days at 4°C in a refrigerator.
For each vaccine, the right cold storage temperature is essential. High-quality cold storage equipment is vital. Specialised -80°C freezers and pharmaceutical refrigerators are best as they have very little temperature deviation. Whatever the ideal conditions for each vaccine may be, the equipment used must also be safe and easy-to-use for ordinary healthcare professionals.
Unprecedented vaccination campaigns
National vaccination campaigns on the scale of those in various countries for COVID-19 are unprecedented. They also carry such an urgent need that it could be the case in many countries, that the location of vaccine administration extends beyond only the location of healthcare providers, such as local doctors and hospitals.
In some countries, such as the UK, pharmacies, sports stadiums, supermarket car parks and other places are already additional venues being used in vaccination programs.
It is possible that as long as a qualified professional actually administers the vaccine, the location of vaccination may be less limited to a strictly medical environment. Perhaps even companies may eventually vaccinate their staff (through the right medical administration processes) in offices. It might be the case that in subsequent years, COVID-19 vaccines might become available from frequently used public buildings, such as supermarkets, as they have been for the normal Influenza vaccine for many years now in the UK. This means that there will also be a need for appropriate, safe and effective cold storage for the vaccines in a far wider spectrum of locations than laboratories and medical facilities.
There are many unanswered questions, as the pandemic vaccination campaign is ‘uncharted water’ and has only just started in many countries. It is possible that it will continue for several years until the threat of COVID-19 is lessened. We simply do not yet know exactly how it will pan out.
An established range of high-quality cold storage solutions
As one of the world’s most important producers and suppliers of high-quality cold storage equipment to life science facilities, PHC Europe can contribute to the pandemic vaccination campaign by supplying the same equipment to logistics companies and vaccine administration centres.
PHC Europe’s entire cold storage range – from pharmaceutical refrigerators to -80°C freezers – are relevant for use in vaccine storage and management, with the appropriateness of the individual models dependent upon which vaccine is used. Most vaccines require controlled temperature storage (between -40°C and +8°C), but the storage of vaccines at -70°C/-80°C is a new development. However, PHCbi’s -80°C freezers are well-established and well-respected products in the world of life sciences. The most popular -80°C freezers models are the PHCbi MDF-DU702VH and the MDF-DU901VHL. After the -80°C freezers, pharmaceutical refrigerators are most commonly used.
There are no special requirements to consider before purchasing any of the freezers. Space for the equipment must, of course, be available, but other than that, a normal 230V electrical socket is all that is required to run one.
More information on individual products can be found here.
Service and support
PHC Europe provides service agreements for its equipment too. These are implemented by our own service engineers in almost all countries. And when this is not possible, our distributors with their own service engineers are all trained and certified at PHC Europe’s training centre in Etten-Leur, The Netherlands. Services can include shipment, installation, validation and qualification. While this can differ with the national setting, service options can always be discussed.
Demand for cold storage products has increased significantly with the emergence of vaccination campaigns. PHC’s factory in Gunma, Japan operates continuously to meet the demand. And PHC Europe continuously works on improvements and progress on its existing products towards support for our customers even more through innovative development.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, PHC Europe has taken appropriate measures to mitigate risks to its operations and supply chain and keep its own staff and customers safe. The firm’s staff work remotely, wherever possible and are contactable during standard office hours. Technical support through telephone, online videocall and email are available and our Service Department is certainly on hand to help. Local Area Sales Managers and distributors are available to receive any enquiries. PHC Europe’s warehouse operations have been structured so that they can continue to supply PHC products, stock levels are good, and our distribution partners can maintain delivery services. For customers who are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, either directly or indirectly, then we are ready to assist with urgent needs wherever possible.
Towards a pandemic-proof future
PHC Europe is a critical link in the logistics of the COVID-19 vaccine. We also consider it our role to provide the world with the highest-quality equipment to ensure (stored) product quality. With the extreme pandemic situation in which we all find ourselves, reliability and temperature stability have become more important than ever. And precise and reliable low-temperature storage is not only relevant for COVID-19 vaccine storage, but other vaccine storage as well. Pandemics are unfortunately probably here to stay.
Please note: This is a commercial profile
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