Why dry ice could be critical to coronavirus vaccine distribution

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(NewsNation Now) — There was good news Monday on the coronavirus vaccine development front as Moderna announced their vaccine is nearly 95% effective.

But there is still so much not known about how the vaccines will make it to every corner of America, and the world.

Airlines say travel restrictions could delay the rollout. The International Air Transport Association says border closures and fewer passenger flights could be big problems.

“With the decrease in passenger service, most people don’t realize how much cargo the passenger carriers move…it’s an enormous amount. All of that cargo has to find a new way to move point to point,” said Derry Huff with Amerijet International.

Only 28% of the air cargo industry feels well prepared for vaccine distribution, according to a survey by the International Air Cargo Association.

They say the main risks of transporting the COVID-19 vaccine are lack of adequate infrastructure, costs, unexpected delays, and temperature excursions — deviations from the labeled storage temperature.

Dry ice will be used to keep the vaccine cold while it is moved in some circumstances.

The Moderna vaccine has to be stored between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 30 days, then -4 degrees for up to six months. And the Pfizer vaccine must be kept much, much colder at -94 degrees Fahrenheit.

There is concern about a dry ice shortage because so much will be needed.

“Everyone is trying to get ready, but no one knows for sure how much or how many pounds they are going to need. Right now it is like a big question mark about how we are going to handle this situation,” said Gio Escobar with Sub Zero Dry ICE.

And once the vaccine is shipped, there are more unanswered questions about how doctors’ offices will store it.

“This temperature…we might have to get a new refrigerator. I might have to figure out if my electric supply can handle a surge of energy for something like that. Not every practice is going to have the capability to be able to help out with distributing the vaccine,” said Chyrsa Charno with Acute Kinds Urgent Care in New York.

CVS signed a contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to distribute the vaccine at 10,000 of its locations. First priority will be for health care workers and people over the age of 65.

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