A LEADING Irish pharmaceutical logistics firm has moved to reassure the public that there will be no storage capacity issues over Covid-19 vaccines which need to be kept at sub-zero temperatures as they are distributed.
1 Scientific chief executive Stephen Delaney insisted that if public and private bodies work together, Ireland will have more than sufficient specialised storage capacity for some of the coronavirus vaccines which need to be carefully stored at temperatures as low as minus 70C.
Two of the vaccines about to be rolled out globally – by Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna – are revolutionary new types of vaccines which do not utilise a live virus sample.
However, they need to be kept at freezing temperatures before use – with both pharmaceutical firms even developing special freezer storage vans for their global distribution.
The Pfizer vaccine, which is manufactured in Belgium, can only be taken out of minus 70C storage four times before it is administered to a patient.
Q1 Scientific, which is based in Waterford, said Ireland has the expert capacity to handle the distribution challenges involved.
“Cold chain distribution in pharma is complicated even in normal times and right now Ireland will need to make available its cold chain capacity to accommodate deliveries of the Covid-19 vaccine,” he said.
“However, if public services and the private sector all come together there won’t be capacity storage issues within Ireland.”
Q1 Scientific already stores pharmaceutical samples at very specific temperatures for 11 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the world.
“Our track record gives us confidence in our ability to be part of the solution for Ireland right now, we have honed an expertise in the field of stability storage for pharmaceutical and life sciences companies over the last seven years,” he told ‘Business of Science’.
“We have 50 stability chambers at our facility in Waterford all operating at different temperatures depending on the demand of our customers. The core of our business is how strictly controlled and monitored our chambers are – we don’t have a chamber that is roughly 25C, they are precisely 25C at every minute of every day for the specified timeframe.”
“We operate storage from 25C all the way down to minus 80C. We have probes inside each room and they take a reading every minute. These readings are sent back to a centralised system – controls like this are the reason that pharmaceutical companies work with us.”
Mr Delaney said his firm has already worked with medicines that are highly temperature sensitive.
“We would for example transport the vaccine with dry-ice and continuous temperature monitoring. This would require a lot of dry-ice which reduces the amount of product transported, therefore it will require a lot of transport. It then needs to be stored at minus 70C on arrival at medical facilities. I really don’t think there is a big problem coming down the track in terms of capacity,” he stressed.
Source: Irish News