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World rushes to build ultra-cold networks to deliver COVID vaccines

Developing Asia faces high hurdles to meet deep-freeze temperatures required

An ultralow temperature container to transport COVID-19 vaccines at the headquarters of German logistic hardware producer va-Q-tec in Wuerzburg, Germany.   © Reuters

LONDON/NEW YORK/TOKYO -- As coronavirus vaccines start to come on the market, countries are rushing to tackle the unique logistical challenges presented by worldwide distribution at the ultralow temperatures needed to keep them stable, with developing Asian countries facing some of the most difficult issues.

The vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech is being transported via planes and trucks from a Pfizer production facility in Belgium to the rest of the world. Specially built boxes can store 1,000 to 5,000 doses at the necessary temperature of minus 70 C for up to 10 days, and can be tracked via GPS. Meanwhile, the vaccine developed by Moderna also must be stored at subzero temperatures, but at minus 20 C.

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