Backed by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, experts from the University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh are investigating the challenge involved in distributing a potentially temperature-sensitive COVID–19 vaccine.
The Centre for Environment Education (CEE) in India is leading the overall research, with support from commercial partners such as Zanotti (a part of the Daikin Group), Sure Chill and Nexleaf Analytics. The British researchers are exploring how integrated “Community Cooling Hubs’” can integrate food cold chains with other cold-dependent services such as community health facilities, social facilities and even emergency services.
“We may have 12-18 months to engineer a robust, efficient distribution system to ensure any vaccine for COVID–19 can reach the world’s population, whether they are in urban or remote rural areas,” said professor Phil Greening from the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight at Heriot-Watt University.
“A radical approach like community cooling hubs could help meet the different communities’ cooling needs in a clean, affordable and sustainable way while helping to safeguard people’s health,” Greening said in a news release out yesterday.
Toby Peters, professor of cold economy at the University of Birmingham, said universal vaccine access is already a major challenge. “With COVID–19, rapid mass immunization will probably be required; maintaining a continuous cold chain to rapidly transport and deliver COVID–19 vaccines to all communities, many where electricity supply and cooling infrastructure is often non-existent or unreliable, will be a daunting task.”