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A South African Freezer Could Be a COVID-19 Vaccination Game-Changer

Could a South African Freezer make vaccinating people in rural areas more efficient?   -  
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Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

South Africa

A Freezer to Transport the COVID-19 Vaccine to Rural Areas?

A South African natural gas company, Renergen, is using its knowledge of cryogenics to develop an ultra-cold biological transport freezer prototype, CryoVacc.

The freezer was created to maintain constant internal temperatures of between 8 to -150 C for more than 25 days — and without needing external power sources.

Could this be a possible solution to safely transport the COVID-19 vaccine to rural areas?

The CEO of the company, Stefano Marani, seems to think so.

"In many of these places where you've got these rural settlements, you don't have the kind of electricity that you need to be able to plug something in. Now the other challenge that you have, is having a freezer that is very transportable and can take you down to minus 70 degrees Celsius."

No Electricity Necessary for Mobile Freezer Storage

Marani truly believes that CryoVacc will be especially useful in supplying the COVID-19 vaccine — and even other vaccines, to large rural populations in Africa, Asia and Latin America who may not have access to suitable storage and transport for prolonged periods of time.

With billions of people who will most likely need around two doses of the coronavirus vaccines to attain global herd immunity, a vaccine rollout in these hard-to-reach areas could be a logistics nightmare in this unprecedented health crisis.

Marani touts CroVacc as a viable option to overcome potential transportation and storage issues.

"You've got a complete internet of things combined within the case so you know at all times exactly where it is, what the custody chain looks like ... and most importantly, you can validate that what's going into your arm has followed a proper ordered process in terms of it maintaining an exact temperature in moving from point A to point B. And importantly, even in the field, in a rural area where you have no electricity."

Vaccination Monopolisation and Campaign Inequities

Perhaps a game-changer as the United Nations called on Wednesday for a coordinated global effort to vaccinate against coronavirus - warning that gaping inequities in initial efforts put the whole planet at risk.

Foreign ministers met virtually for a first-ever UN Security Council session on vaccinations called by current chair Britain, which said the world had a "moral duty" to act together against the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 2.4 million people.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also made mention of the fact that just 10 nations have administered 75% of doses so far while 130 countries have had none at all.

He asserted that the group of 20 more financially privileged economies was in the best position to set up a task force on financing and implementation of global vaccinations — offering the full support of the United Nations to see it done.

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