German pharma logistics specialist Trans-o-flex has rejected reports that companies transporting corona-virus vaccines would have to build networks around the world in which the products can be stored and transported at ultra-low freezer temperatures as low as -80° Celsius.
“Anyone who knows just a little bit about the pharmaceutical industry understands that the hastily communicated temperatures between -20° and -80° are precautions that companies must take until they have valid data on the storage life of their products also at higher temperatures,” explained company CEO, Wolfgang Albeck.
“In fact, several (pharma) companies have now confirmed that Covid-19 vaccine candidates retain their efficacy even if they are treated like normal cold chain products – i.e. stored and transported at 2-8°.”
He cited two companies, Biontech and Curevac, as examples, noting that the former is developing a Covid-19 vaccine together with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and had announced at a press conference that its vaccine could be stored at 2-8° for five days. According to Albeck, Biontech intends to announce, “further assured results shortly”, adding that it can be assumed that the company will certify that its product has a significantly longer stability at refrigerator temperature.
As for Curevac, it is researching another vaccine candidate against Covid-19 and has even confirmed that its vaccine exhibits “stability over several months” at 2-8°C.
From all this, Trans-o-flex has concluded that Covid-19 vaccines are most likely to be classified as cold chain products that can be safely transported at so-called refrigerator temperature.
“Thanks to our actively temperature-controlled networks, we are therefore optimally prepared for a nationwide distribution of Covid-19 vaccines,” Albeck underlined.
“Our subsidiary Trans-o-flex ThermoMed, which specializes in distribution in the temperature range between 2-8°, can deliver Covid-19 vaccines, just like the influenza vaccines in recent years – to all doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and pharmaceutical wholesalers in Germany and Austria – in a safe and transparently documented manner,” he added.
Contradicts previous report
A study published last month by DHL and consultancy firm McKinsey & Company indicated that the global delivery of 10 billion doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will require “scaled-up” medical supply chains over the next two years, also warning that insufficient ‘’ast mile’ cooling facilities and a lack of storage at clinics in large parts of Africa, Asia and South America would “pose the biggest challenge” in the delivery process.
The white paper, entitled: Delivering pandemic resilience: How to Secure Stable Supply Chains for Vaccines and Medical Goods During the COVID-19 Crisis and Future Health Emergencies, stated that as COVID-19 vaccines had leapfrogged development phases, stringent temperature requirements (up to -80°C) were likely to be imposed for certain vaccines to ensure that their efficacy is maintained during transportation and warehousing.
It noted that this “poses novel logistics challenges to the existing medical supply chain that conventionally distributes vaccines at around 2–8°C”, suggesting that two-thirds of the world’s population was unlikely to have easy access to any Covid-19 vaccine that needs to be stored at freezing temperatures. Existing ‘cold-chain’ infrastructure, which allows for temperatures to be controlled throughout the delivery process, is only sufficient to bring a frozen vaccine to 2.5 billion people in approximately 25 developed countries, the research paper concluded, recommending that governments and non-governmental organizations would need to implement special measures to ensure vaccine distribution.