New Products for the Pharma Cold Chain

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Freezers, shipping containers, and tracking systems aid distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

The cold chain plays a crucial role in wide-scale distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. New technologies, including systems for real-time tracking using the Internet of Things (IoT), are enabling vaccine manufacturers to prevent temperature excursions and ensure that doses arrive on time. Companies throughout the supply chain have been increasing capacity and introducing products to meet needs for refrigerated and frozen storage.


Cincinnati Sub-Zero (CSZ) BioStore ultra-cold freezer rooms for large-capacity bulk storage contain individual freezer compartments with temperatures from -75 to -40°C (1). According to CSZ, freezer rooms offer benefits such as redundant, back-up cooling systems and lower costs than individual freezers.

Stirling Ultracold’s portable, ultra-low temperature freezers are capable of the storage needed for some COVID-19 vaccines (2). The freezers can be used worldwide; they plug into a 110–240V outlet and can run on 12V DC power adapter.

Telstar doubled production of its latest-generation Boreas ultra-low temperature freezers designed for vaccine storage in hospitals and in transportation (3). The freezer maintains a temperature of -80 °C with ambient temperatures up to +28 °C. 

Shipping containers and tracking systems

Pelican BioThermal has expanded the temperatures available with its Crēdo Cube reusable parcel shipper and other shipping packages for deep frozen conditions; temperatures can be held at -20, -35, -50, and -80 °C using phase-change materials and dry ice systems (4).

SkyCell opened new service centers in New Jersey, Rome, and Seoul to meet increased demand for its temperature-controlled, self-charging, and IoT-tracked containers for pharmaceutical shipping (5).

Sonoco ThermoSafe’s new Pegasus unit load device (ULD) bulk temperature-controlled container received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval as a ULD, which eases handling and customs processes (6). The container’s FAA-approved telemetry system provides real-time, GPS-synchronized, cloud-based data on payload, ambient temperature, and key environmental factors.

SmartSense, the IoT Solutions division of Digi International, said that its monitoring systems, which include sensors and analytics, can be used for temperature monitoring and tracking of vaccines (7).

Nordic Cold Chain Solutions’ new Pre-Tested Frozen Shippers were designed for vaccine storage and distribution. The company says its products are tested in-house at its cold chain testing facility, and that the shipper designs keep products frozen for one or two-day shipments (8).


  1. CSZ Industrial, “CSZ Provides Bulk Cold Storage Solution for Vaccines,” Press Release, Nov. 13, 2020.
  2. Stirling Ultracold, “Stirling Ultracold Helps Communities Around the World Prepare to Administer COVID-19 Vaccination,” Press Release, Oct. 29, 2020.
  3. Telstar, “Telstar Doubles the Production of Boreas Ultra-low Temperature Freezers,” Press Release, Nov. 18, 2020.
  4. Pelican BioThermal, “Pelican Biothermal Expands Deep Frozen Product Range to Meet Covid-19 Vaccine Shipping Requirements,” Press Release, Nov. 19, 2020.
  5. SkyCell, “New SkyCell Service Centers Open as the Race for Secure Pharma Containers Intensifies,” Press Release, Nov. 5, 2020.
  6. Thermosafe, “Sonoco ThermoSafe’s New Pegasus ULD Receives FAA Approval,” Press Release, Sept. 15, 2020.
  7. Digi, “Nation’s Largest Retail Pharmacies to Leverage SmartSense by Digi for Government-Mandated Continuous Monitoring of Forthcoming COVID-19 Vaccine,” Press Release, Oct. 21, 2020.
  8. Nordic Cold Chain Solutions, “Nordic Cold Chain Solutions Prepared for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution,” Press Release, Nov. 19, 2020.