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Coronavirus

FedEx bulks up cold storage facilities for vaccines in Singapore

Transporting COVID-19 shots 'most important job,' company says

Fedex will employ a system that uses sensors to monitor temperature, humidity and other conditions of goods being transported.

SINGAPORE -- FedEx has beefed up its cold chain facilities in Singapore in response to growing demand in Southeast Asia for COVID-19 vaccines, which need to be stored at subzero temperatures.

Transporting vaccines is one of the most important jobs in the company's history, Audrey Cheong, managing director at FedEx Express Singapore, told reporters on Thursday.

FedEx installed two additional large freezers this month inside a customs bonded warehouse at Changi Airport. These units can store vaccines from Pfizer and others at minus 70 C. The company will also employ a system that uses sensors to monitor the temperature, humidity, light exposure and other conditions of goods during transport.

Nearby is FedEx's Life Sciences Express Hub, a facility with 6,000 sq. meters of floor space that is specifically designed to handle vaccines and other medical products. An ultracold freezer with a temperature setting of minus 24.8 C is used to store various vaccines, including for HIV and influenza, as well as PCR test kits for COVID-19.

FedEx does not operate cold chain facilities anywhere else in Southeast Asia. In an emergency, it can quickly ship vaccines from Singapore to hospitals in the region by using such equipment as boxes for transporting frozen goods and battery-powered refrigerated containers.

A freezer at Fedex's facility in Singapore stores COVID-19 vaccines and other medical supplies at minus 25 C. (Photo by Mayuko Tani)

The company is also in talks with vaccine manufacturers and the governments of neighboring nations to create a vaccine transport network. The aim is to get the shots from the producers to where they are needed, via Singapore, once they are approved by local regulators.

Singapore began administering Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines last month. It has been building up its cold chain facilities at airports and elsewhere with an aim to become a transport hub for the vaccines.

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