Ultra Low Freezers and COVID-19: Why They Have Become Such a Necessity


The Covid-19 pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on the global healthcare systems, sparing no nation. The need for rapid and accurate testing and the development and distribution of covid-19 vaccines has brought the need for high-tech medical equipment, such as refrigeration units that can maintain extremely low temperatures. This has been key to slowing down the infection rate of Covid-19. 

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the two most widely distributed vaccines worldwide, require ultra-cold temperatures for storage and transportation. This has led to a surge in demand for extremely low-temperature units in hospitals, research labs, and pharmaceutical companies to store vaccines effectively.

These extremely low-temperature refrigeration units, known as ultra low freezers, were infrequent before the pandemic and have become significant in the fight against Covid-19. Let’s explore in depth what an ultra low freezer is and why they have become necessary in the fight against covid-19.

What Is An Ultra Low Freezer?

Ultra low (ULT) freezers are special refrigeration units that can maintain extremely low temperatures, between -40C and -86C. These freezers are typically used in healthcare, research laboratories, and biotechnology to store sensitive samples such as enzymes, blood, biological samples, and vaccines. Their advanced cooling technology ensures that samples or vaccines are stored in stable, consistent ultra-low temperature conditions.

Ultra low freezers use a combination of advanced insulation materials to maintain low temperatures consistently. They also have a built-in alarm system that alerts users if the temperature is not within the desired range and are also equipped with backup power in case of a power outage.

Ultra Low Freezers in COVID-19 Vaccine Storage

The covid-19 pandemic has spurred vaccine development and efficient distribution on an unprecedented scale. The most common vaccines are Pfizer and Moderna, which require ultra-low temperatures to maintain efficacy. 

The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70c while Moderna Vaccine can remain efficient in warmer temperatures of -20C. Unlike traditional vaccines, the mRNA molecules used in the Covid-19 vaccines necessitate ultra-cold temperatures to prevent its degradation. 

As a critical tool in the fight against covid-19, the Pfizer vaccine poses an extreme challenge to thermal regulation. This calls for powerful, fine-tuned equipment that can maintain low temperatures to protect the vaccine. ULT freezers have become necessary to store the Pfizer vaccine, one of the most widely used vaccines worldwide.

The development of novel technology of an ultra low freezer has become essential in distributing and storing Covid-19 vaccines. The vaccines are sensitive to temperature fluctuations and must remain frozen when stored and during transit at the required temperature. Upon arrival at their destination, the vaccines must be transferred to ultra low freezers to ensure long-term storage.

Unlike other low temp freezers, an ultra low freezer can rapidly restore temperature once the doors are closed. This ensures that the vaccines’ temperature remains stable, extending their shelf life and efficiency. 

Ultra Low Freezers In COVID-19 Vaccine Testing

Covid-19 testing has been essential in controlling the spread of the virus and has been key to saving lives. Some covid-19 tests, such as nasal swabs, saliva, and blood samples, must be stored at low temperatures to maintain their quality for accurate testing.

An ultra low freezer is necessary for storing these samples, and they can maintain stable low temperatures, ensuring the samples give accurate results upon testing. 

Additionally, they have been critical in storing reagents and other testing materials used in covid-19 tests. This medical equipment has become so important, especially with the rapid spread of the virus and the need for fast testing and vaccine distribution to curb the spread.

Maintaining The Cold Chain Using ULT Freezers

The cold chain is crucial in vaccine distribution. It refers to the process of maintaining a consistently cold temperature from the time of manufacture of a vaccine until its administration. The process is essential to maintain the integrity and efficacy of the vaccines, such as temperature-sensitive covid-19 vaccines.

ULT freezers have become critical in maintaining the cold chain, especially for vaccines requiring ultra-low storage and distribution temperatures. They ensure that the vaccines and blood samples are readily available when needed and prevent delays in distribution and wastage of the Covid-19 vaccine due to spoilage or degradation.

ULT freezers play an essential role in the fight against Covid-19 and other diseases by ensuring that vaccines are stored and transported at the required temperature range.

Increased Demand For Ultra Low Freezers During COVID-19

There has been an increased demand for ultra low freezers during the pandemic due to the following reasons:

  • It is the only solution that can guarantee consistent and stable temperature in the storage of the vaccines from the manufacturer to the recipient
  • They can store hundreds of thousands of doses which can reach many people and curb the spread of the virus.
  • There has been a rapid growth of biological-based drugs, which need ultra low temperatures to maintain their efficacy.

An ultra low freezer can be an excellent choice for:

  • Storage of biological material susceptible to heat
  • Preservation of microbes and cell cultures for long periods
  • Storage of bodily fluids and human tissues

Such samples can be stored at stable, precise ultra-low temperatures preserving their integrity, unlike in normal freezing conditions.

Benefits Of An Ultra low freezer 

ULT freezers offer several benefits in modern scientific research, especially in biology, and biotechnology. These benefits include:

  1. Maintenance Of Delicate Samples

ULT freezers are designed to maintain extremely low temperatures of up to -80C, critical for maintaining delicate biological samples such as DNA, RNA, and vaccines. These samples are highly susceptible to degradation when exposed to fluctuating temperatures. 

ULT freezers offer the perfect solution for this issue by providing stable and consistent temperature ideal for long-term storage, unlike conventional refrigeration units, which can only maintain temperatures of around-20C.

  1. Reduced Risk Of Contamination

In addition to maintaining high temperatures, ULT freezers provide a highly controlled environment that minimizes the risk of contamination. ULT freezer features such as precise temperature control, automatic defrost and advanced air circulation, smart sliding racks, and carts ensure that samples maintain their purity which is critical for accurate results

  1. Compact And Efficient Storage

Ultra low freezers have become necessary because they can store large samples in compact and efficient ways. ULT freezers are available in upright as well as chest models. 

Upright ultra low freezers are a perfect solution for storing samples and vaccines within a relatively small footprint. These freezers have adjustable shelves that can be rearranged to accommodate even more vaccines.

On the other hand, chest ULT freezers offer more efficient storage for large volumes of samples. They are also more energy efficient than upright ULT freezers owing to their better insulation, resulting in lower energy consumption. However, they take up more space than the upright type.

It is crucial to choose the right type of freezer depending on the storage requirements and available space to ensure optimal preservation and energy efficiency.

Challenges Of Ultra Low Freezers

Despite their critical role in storing and distributing Covid-29 vaccines, ULT freezers have several challenges.

  1. High Cost Of Purchase

Ultra-low temperature freezers cost between several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. This can discourage smaller healthcare facilities that do not have the budget to purchase and maintain ULT freezers. 

  1. High Energy Consumption

ULT freezers require significant energy to maintain ultra-low temperatures, which may increase operations costs and carbon emissions. In addition, some regions lack the infrastructure to sustain this high-tech medical equipment. However, newer ULT freezers are designed with energy-efficient features. 

  1. Maintenance And Monitoring

In addition to the initial cost of purchasing ULT freezers, ongoing maintenance costs are also to consider. These freezers require regular maintenance to ensure they function properly and prevent costly breakdowns. Failure to maintain and monitor ULT freezers can lead to temperature fluctuations that can compromise the effectiveness of the stored vaccines.

The Need For Ultra-Low Freezers 

ULT freezers have become crucial in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. They play a crucial role in storing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines, which require ultra-low temperatures to maintain their efficacy.  An ultra low freezer provides a reliable and safe way to store and distribute vaccines, allowing healthcare providers and governments to distribute vaccines to large populations quickly and efficiently. In addition, they ensure that samples are stored under ideal temperature conditions for accurate test results. 

Ultra-low freezers are beneficial in the maintenance of delicate biological samples that are susceptible to heat and help reduce the risk of contamination with features such as automatic defrost, advanced air circulation, and smart sliding racks and carts that minimize sample handling and offer compact and efficient storage for storing large volumes of covid-19 doses.

However, these high-tech freezers have their set of challenges. Their cost, energy consumption, and maintenance requirements can pose significant challenges for smaller healthcare facilities and regions in poor economic standing.

Despite these challenges, ULT freezers remain necessary in the global effort to combat COVID-19 and other diseases requiring ultra-cold storage and distribution. As vaccine technology continues to evolve, ULT freezers will likely play a critical role in the storage and distribution of vaccines in the years to come.