UPS Healthcare is gearing up to support demand for cold chain logistics as Covid-19 vaccine distribution inches closer to becoming a reality.
The Atlanta-based transportation and logistics giant said this week its healthcare services division has increased its dry ice production capabilities and is working on a project to deliver ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers to small point-of-care facilities nationwide.
The company said it can now produce up to 1,200 pounds of dry ice per hour in its U.S. facilities to support storage and transportation of cold chain products, including frozen vaccines, throughout the United States and Canada. Some of the earliest Covid-19 vaccines have stringent cold chain requirements, causing a spike in demand for dry ice that some analysts say may lead to a shortage as pharmaceutical companies gear up for vaccine distribution, UPS said.
“Enhancing our dry ice production capabilities increases our supply chain agility and reliability immensely when it comes to handling complex vaccines for our customers,” Wes Wheeler, president of UPS Healthcare, said in a statement Tuesday. “Healthcare facilities in Louisville, Dallas, and Ontario will ensure we have the capability to produce dry ice to sufficiently pack and replenish shipments as needed to keep products viable and effective.”
UPS also said it is working with freezer manufacturer Stirling Ultracold to deliver ULT freezers to smaller point-of-care facilities; the freezers can protect vaccines in temperatures ranging from -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) to -80 degrees Celsius (-112 degrees Fahrenheit).
“This program will help ensure vaccines remain effective next year, and for years to come, as future vaccines and biologics are developed to keep the world healthy and safe,” Dusty Tenney, CEO of Stirling, said in a statement.