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COVID 19 vaccine distribution solution to the last mile challenge: Experimental and simulation studies of ultra-low temperatu...

Publication Type
Journal Name
International Journal of Refrigeration
Publication Date
Page Numbers
313 to 325

Most COVID-19 vaccines require ambient temperature control for transportation and storage. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA and lipid nanoparticles requiring low temperature storage. The Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-low temperature storage (between −80 °C and −60 °C), while the Moderna vaccine requires −30 °C storage. Pfizer has designed a reusable package for transportation and storage that can keep the vaccine at the target temperature for 10 days. However, the last stage of distribution is quite challenging, especially for rural or suburban areas, where local towns, pharmacy chains and hospitals may not have the infrastructure required to store the vaccine. Also, the need for a large amount of ultra-low temperature refrigeration equipment in a short time period creates tremendous pressure on the equipment suppliers. In addition, there is limited data available to address ancillary challenges of the distribution framework for both transportation and storage stages. As such, there is a need for a quick, effective, secure, and safe solution to mitigate the challenges faced by vaccine distribution logistics. The study proposes an effective, secure, and safe ultra-low temperature refrigeration solution to resolve the vaccine distribution last mile challenge. The approach is to utilize commercially available products, such as refrigeration container units, and retrofit them to meet the vaccine storage temperature requirement. Both experimental and simulation studies are conducted to evaluate the technical merits of this solution with the ability to control temperature at −30 °C or −70 °C as part of the last mile supply chain for vaccine candidates.