December 8, 2023

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COVID-19 vaccine: Storage bottles and Transport

COVID-19 vaccine: Storage bottles and Transport

COVID-19 vaccine: Storage bottles and Transport.The COVID-19 pneumonia epidemic is still spreading globally, and the development of vaccines has always been the focus of attention. One dose of vaccine, from the laboratory to the final human vaccination, has to go through many challenges. Mass production, vaccine storage, cross-border transportation…The problems related to the upstream and downstream industrial chain cannot be underestimated.

A British journalist said: “Don’t underestimate the challenges involved. This requires the coordination of various supply chains, not only vaccines, but also glass bottles, rubber stoppers, and paper labels. The problem, the final vaccine product will be delayed.”

1 Small glass vials may become a major “bottleneck” for the COVID-19 vaccine

“Bottle” ?


Some analysts predict that if each person is vaccinated 3 times and the global penetration rate of the COVID-19 vaccine reaches 20%, 5 billion vaccine bottles will be needed; when the global penetration rate reaches 70%, nearly 16 billion vaccine bottles will be needed. Globally, almost all biomedical companies involved in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine are lining up to buy vaccine vials.
In fact, when the COVID-19 vaccine is about to be mass-produced, there are signs of shortage of glass bottles containing the vaccine. You will be curious, isn’t it just a small glass bottle, what’s so special?

In fact, vaccines have very high requirements for glass bottles. Vaccines are chemical agents. Once they react chemically with the glass bottles, they will be contaminated and pose safety hazards. Therefore, the glass bottles used for vaccines are not ordinary glass bottles, but medium borosilicate glass bottles. Its chemical properties are stable, water and acid resistant. In addition, medium borosilicate glass is very resistant to low temperatures. Like Pfizer vaccine, it needs to be stored at -70°C, and ordinary glass cannot withstand it.

some countries’s medical glass products are currently transitioning from mainly soda lime glass and low borosilicate glass to medium borosilicate glass. As of the end of July, China has approved seven COVID-19 vaccines that have entered the clinical stage, and the vaccine vials are all made of medium borosilicate glass.

2 Cold chain transportation is difficult, and the COVID-19 vaccine faces the test of temperature control

01) Vaccines have strict requirements for temperature control

Vaccines are extremely sensitive to temperature. A WHO study estimates that as many as 50% of vaccines worldwide are wasted every year. This is largely due to the lack of temperature control and complete cold chain logistics. At present, the two fast-moving companies, Pfizer and Moderna, are developing mRNA, that is, messenger ribonucleic acid vaccine, which has strict requirements on temperature conditions. Pfizer’s vaccines must be stored at -70°C.

02) The demand for dry ice soars

Due to the extremely high temperature requirements of vaccines, a large amount of dry ice has become an alternative under the background of insufficient ultra-cold and low-temperature refrigerator facilities.
The American dry ice manufacturer interviewed by CNBC said: In recent times, new demand has basically come from vaccine-related institutions and companies, including hospitals, vaccine manufacturers, and logistics transportation companies. The production of these dry ices is mainly used to ensure the transportation and storage of Pfizer vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccine: Storage bottles and Transport

A dry ice supplier in New Jersey, USA: The current supply is almost twice as much as usual.In addition, affected by the epidemic this year, the demand for frozen food transportation has increased, which has also increased the demand for dry ice. On the other hand, under the epidemic, the demand for automobile travel has decreased, the consumption of gasoline has fallen, and the production of ethanol has also fallen sharply. Some ethanol factories that produce carbon dioxide as a by-product have been forced to close, resulting in a gradual shortage of raw materials for making dry ice.

However, for dry ice production and transportation, the greater challenge is that the shelf life of dry ice is very short. Rich Gottwald, CEO of the American Compressed Gas Association, explained: “Dry ice will be regasified in 5-10 days after it is produced.” Therefore, air transportation has become a very critical part.
However, dry ice has been classified as a dangerous product by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the US Department of Transportation. Because dry ice will sublime into gas when it decomposes, it may replace oxygen in the cabin under poor ventilation, which poses a certain safety risk.

03) Air cargo capacity faces challenges

In order to ensure large-scale processing, safe transportation and rapid distribution of vaccines, global air cargo capacity will also face tremendous pressure. According to estimates by the International Air Transport Association, if one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is used for each of the 7.5 billion people in the world, 8,000 fully loaded Boeing 747 freighters will need to act immediately to meet the capacity.

04) The medical infrastructure in some areas is backward

In some countries, medical-related infrastructure and sanitation are relatively backward, and how to ensure the safe transportation and vaccination of vaccines has also become a problem.
Professor Toby Peters, University of Birmingham, UK: You will find that in some regions and countries, 30% to 40% of medical centers may not have electricity. In some countries, less than 10% of medical centers may be equipped with functioning refrigerators.

3 Doubts, people in many countries are less willing to vaccinate

Even if the many problems in the industry chain are solved, the vaccine will ultimately face every vaccinator. The research and development of COVID-19 vaccines in most countries and regions is “fast track.” Considering the unknown side effects that may be brought about, people lack sufficient trust in the vaccine. According to the latest poll, compared with August, the willingness of people in 15 countries to receive the COVID-19 vaccine has dropped by an average of 4%.
According to the British “Guardian” report, 42% of Americans said they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine. On December 2, local time, according to multiple U.S. media reports, the three former U.S. Presidents Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama respectively stated that in order to prove the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, they voluntarily vaccinate publicly to “business” “.

Only when enough people are vaccinated can the COVID-19 vaccine really help people resist the virus, which means that the last person to vaccinate is more important than the first person to vaccinate.
How to eliminate people’s resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine may become the “last mile” on the journey of defeating the COVID-19 virus.

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