Story at a glance

  • The vaccine must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit or below to be effective.
  • UPS on Tuesday said it can produce as much as 1,200 pounds of dry ice an hour near its Worldport air hub in Louisville, Ky., and can ship it within 24 hours to U.S. and Canadian hospitals and clinics.
  • UPS also partnered with freezer manufacturer Stirling Ultracold to distribute freezers capable of reaching minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit for care providers that don’t have facilities to keep the vaccines from spoiling.

The United Parcel Service (UPS) has established its own dry ice production in its U.S. facilities and will distribute ultra-cold temperature freezers to help in the distribution efforts for COVID-19 vaccines over the coming months. 

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced this week the distribution of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine could begin in mid-December pending emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 


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The vaccine, however, must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit or below to be effective. The drug maker has developed special containers with dry ice to keep it cool for up to 15 days. Other messenger RNA vaccines, including the shot developed by Moderna, may also require dry ice in transport. 

In preparation for the distribution, UPS on Tuesday said it can produce as much as 1,200 pounds of dry ice an hour near its Worldport air hub in Louisville, Ky., and can ship it within 24 hours to U.S. and Canadian hospitals and clinics. 

“Enhancing our dry ice production capabilities increases our supply chain agility and reliability immensely when it comes to handling complex vaccines for our customers,” Wes Wheeler, president of UPS Healthcare, said in a statement. “Healthcare facilities in Louisville, Dallas and Ontario will ensure we have the capability to produce dry ice to sufficiently pack and replenish shipments as needed to keep products viable and effective.” 

UPS also partnered with freezer manufacturer Stirling Ultracold to distribute freezers capable of reaching minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit for care providers that don’t have facilities to keep the vaccines from spoiling. 

Federal officials said 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine will be distributed to states and territories by mid-December, with a goal of 40 million doses distributed by the end of the year.


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Published on Nov 25, 2020