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Ultra-cold smart container developed for vaccine transport

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A Zurich firm has developed an “ultra-cold” smart container for the safe transportation of COVID-19 vaccines around the world.

SkyCell’s product maintains a steady temperature of minus 60° Celsius to minus 80° Celsius for more than 120 hours without recharging, enabling up to 1.75 million doses to be transported in a single aircraft, which is enough to vaccinate between 875,000 and 8.75 million people depending on the vaccine and concentration.

The containers are also equipped with IoT sensors to measure internal and ambient temperature, as well as other environmental factors.

Manufacturing of the reusable containers will begin next week, with a fleet of at least 100 to be ready in January. This would deliver capacity to move at least 7 million ultra-cold COVID-19 vaccine doses per month around the world from the beginning of 2021.

Richard Ettl, CEO and co-founder of SkyCell, said: “With the launch of this ultra-cold smart container, we are now able to transport all of the leading vaccine candidates for COVID-19, serving both the mass volume 2 to 8°C market and now the important market segment of -60°C to -80°C.

“We have already seen 60 per cent year-on-year growth in 2020 as pharmaceutical companies and governments around the world recognise the need to ensure their supply chains are robust enough to deliver critical vaccines in viable condition and at sufficient volume.”

Nico Ros, CTO and co-founder, added: “Building these containers is a highly sophisticated work of engineering, like designing a Formula One car. Everything must be optimised to protect any cargo, but especially a vaccine for COVID-19.

“Following the work of various vaccine teams closely, it quickly became clear there would be a need for ultra-cold transportation, so we worked with Ansys’ advanced AI software to calculate the most efficient design, while maintaining our laser-sharp focus on safety – both in terms of protecting the viability of the vaccines and when it comes to the container itself.

“Virtual modelling enabled us to rapidly and safely create a solution that maximising aircraft capacity utilisation and ensures cargo can be maintained at ultra-cold temperatures from factory to hospital.”

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