The UK COVID-19 vaccination programme is the world's first mass immunisation campaign using vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.
Vaccinations began in early December 2020, after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), “granted emergency authorisation to the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine, an RNA vaccine”.
By the end of December 2020, the MHRA approved a second vaccine, Oxford–AstraZeneca's. A third vaccine, Moderna's mRNA-1273 was also later approved. As of 8 January 2021 there were four other COVID-19 vaccines on order for the programme.
Government data, shows that “1,296,432 people had received their first dose of the vaccine in the UK as of the week ending 3 January”.
Vaccination sites include GP practices, care homes and hospitals with 994 vaccination sites operating in England. Seven mass vaccination centres are also opening.
Vaccine Storage and Distribution.
The Vaccines produced contain weakened or inactive viruses or specific m RNA sequences that need to be stored at cold temperatures. If optimal temperature is not maintained, their ability to create an immune response may be affected. The advised temperature must be adhered to “keep the vaccine active, intact, and useful for a more extended period”.
The Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine storage requires a temperature as low as -70°C for maintaining its potency. Moderna and Sputnik needs cold storage up to -20°C. Oxford-AstraZeneca requires average fridge temperatures of -2°C to 8°C.
It is essential that temperatures of -70°C need to be maintained from manufacturing to final use. Ultra low freezers need to be used and their temperatures constantly checked…efficiently and accurately.
A Logicall Sensor.
So vital is the need for accurate and efficient temperature monitoring, it is worth spending time on how this can best be achieved.
To really get the best results, a cloud based real-time solution is essential. A sensor can be placed in any ultra low freezer or cold storage facility. It will pick up temperature data as frequently as required and send this data to a cloud system via a gateway.
If the temperature falls out of the parameter set (i.e. -68°C) an instant alert will be sent to as many users as needed. There is little chance that this breach will not be noticed; giving staff the opportunity to investigate and rectify the temperature storage problem before several doses are no longer viable and need to be destroyed.
Records detailing the exact location, time and nature of the breach are vital information that can be viewed in the form of reports and graphs. Knowing how long the freezer has been out of temperature will determine the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
The stakes are too high; we need to make sure vaccines get to their destination safely and efficiently.