Ag industry helps with COVID vaccine storage

Ag industry helps with COVID vaccine storage
Jan 06, 2021

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Syngenta has donated freezers capable of properly storing the Pfizer vaccine

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The U.S. ag industry is doing its part to ensure COVID vaccines can be stored properly.

Syngenta has donated three freezers from Thermo Scientific and Forma Scientific to hospitals in Iowa and North Carolina.

These freezers are likely being used to store the Pfizer vaccine.

The vaccine requires storage conditions of at least -70°C (-94°F), Pfizer’s website says.

The vaccine from Moderna, for contrast, can be stored between 2° and 8°C (36° to 46°F).

The Thermo and Forma Scientific freezers can reach temperatures as low as -86°C (-122.8°F).

“These are specialty freezers, they’re obviously not your domestic freezer for keeping your ice cream,” Ian Jepson, site manager of the RTP Innovation Center in North Carolina, told Farms.com. “We use these in life sciences research for storage of DNA, RNA and antibodies, so they’re well suited for vaccines.”

The research site in North Carolina has nearly 50 freezers it uses for ultra-low temperature storage.

A local hospital in Iowa initially contacted Syngenta researchers voicing concerns about having the ability to store the COVID vaccine.

“Based on that information, I reached out to the (University of North Carolina) hospital system,” Ian Jepson, site manager of the RTP Innovation Center in North Carolina, told Farms.com.

Feedback from the hospitals has been positive.

Hospitals aren’t generally equipped with these kinds of storage equipment, Jepson said.

Health officials “describe it as a game-changer,” he said. “They would not be able to distribute the vaccine unless they have these facilities in place. It typically takes six months to order one, and now everybody is trying to buy one. We delivered freezers in December and they’re fully operational.”

These donations represent another way the ag industry works to support communities.

The ag industry has been there for the public since the beginning of the pandemic and will continue to be there to protect food security, Jepson said.

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