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Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty

UPS and Ford Motor Company have both announced they ordered portable, ultra-low temperature freezers for storing coronavirus vaccines when they become available.

Why it matters: While the promising vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is 95% effective, it can only be stored at or around -70 degrees Celsius.

  • The CDC has advised health care providers against purchasing ultra-low temperature freezers, noting that other vaccines without such storage needs will soon be available. But that hasn’t stopped some hospitals from rushing to buy the freezers, which cost $10,000 to $15,000 each, according to STAT.
  • Moderna’s vaccine must be frozen, too, but only at -20 degrees Celsius.

How it works: The freezer is augmented with dry ice, which maintains the vaccine at the appropriate level, said Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed. Doing so maintains the correct temperature for up to 20 days for Pfizer and as long as 30 days for Moderna.

The state of play: UPS will produce 1,200 pounds of dry ice per hour in the U.S. and Canada to store and transport frozen vaccines, the company said in a press release on Tuesday. It will use ultra-cold freezers, ranging from -20 to -80 degrees Celsius, to protect the vaccines.

  • UPS will also make dry ice available to U.S. and Canadian hospitals and clinics.
  • FedEx bought ultra-cold freezers to transport vaccines, the Daily Memphian reported in early November.
  • The two companies are part of a coordinated effort to safely and effectively distribute vaccines across the U.S.

Ford has ordered a dozen ultra-cold freezers and plans to offer vaccines exclusively to its employees, the Detroit Free Press reports.

  • The 12 super freezers may not all end up in the U.S.

What they’re saying: “So from Pfizer, Moderna, McKesson trucking, through FedEx, UPS, down to the pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens and many others — the intent was to integrate and synchronize and capitalize on known professionals who know how to execute this,” Perna said on a press call Tuesday.

Context: Hospitals without means will not be able to afford to buy freezers.

Go deeper

Jan 23, 2021 - World

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.

Latest James Bond movie release delayed for third time

An advertisement poster featuring Daniel Craig in the new James Bond movie "No Time to Die" in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images

The release of the latest James Bond film, "No Time to Die," has been postponed for the third time as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate Hollywood.

The state of play: The film's release, initially scheduled for April 2020, was first postponed to November 2020, and then to April 2021. MGM said this week that movie's global debut will now be delayed until Oct. 8.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 23, 2021 - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.