Washington (AFP) - Global shipping giant UPS on Tuesday said it would start making dry ice in the United States and also distribute ultra-cold temperature freezers as it prepares to handle the logistics of shipping Covid-19 vaccines.
Facing the world's largest coronavirus outbreak, the US government's Operation Warp Speed plans to distribute 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the first week after it's cleared for emergency use, which could come as soon as December 10.
That vaccine requires ultra-cold long-term storage of -70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit), and the company has developed special containers with dry ice to keep it cool for up to 15 days, while other vaccines may also need dry ice in transport.
In a statement, UPS said it had added equipment in its facilities that can produce up to 1,200 pounds of dry ice an hour for the shipping needs of these vaccines, which can be distributed within 24 hours of production to US and Canadian hospitals.
"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," Wes Wheeler, president of medical arm UPS Healthcare, said in a statement.
UPS also announced a partnership with freezer manufacturer Stirling Ultracold to distribute freezers capable of reaching temperatures as low as -80 degrees Celsius to doctors' offices, pharmacies and urgent care facilities where the vaccines may be stored for long periods of time.
UPS stock was 3.7 percent higher at the close.