Will Covid-19 Vaccine Create a Dry Ice Shortage?
As Covid-19 counts continue to rise in North America, Europe and throughout the world, the potential for a vaccine comes at a critical time as scientists seek to prevent transmission of the virus by individuals already infected.
On November 9, 2020, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their trial of a Covid-19 vaccine showed a 90% efficacy rate and very promising results in participants who had developed symptoms. The results are preliminary as Pfizer has cautioned that the protection rate initially shown in research may change by the time the actual study ends. On November 16, 2020 Moderna announced their Covid-19 vaccine has an efficacy rate of 94%. This is extremely encouraging as well, as mRNA vaccines appear to be on track to shattering all past performance rates of old-school vaccines (both trials are for mRNA vaccines).
However, with the advent of an effective vaccine for the world coming soon, the next issue the pharmaceutical industry is grappling with is the mass production, storage, and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. Dry ice might be the interim answer, but that creates a challenge for dry ice distributors and equipment makers as the potential for a lack of availability of dry ice looms.
Dry Ice for Storage and Transport of Covid-19 Vaccines
The obvious interim solution for the transport and storage of these 1st-GEN Covid-19 vaccines is incorporating dry ice technology. The United States Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated that the US could receive around 20,000,000 doses each month starting sometime in December. This depending on when Pfizer is granted regulatory approvals.
One of the biggest challenges will be transporting and storing the 1st-generation Covid-19 vaccines to hospitals, labs, and administration specialists. Administration facilities presently do not have the required equipment to store and transport vaccine at a temperature of -94 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists report that the vaccine needs to be transported at a temperature below -90 degrees F.
Dry ice has been used successfully for preservation in the food industry because it can preserve organic matter without the use of mechanical cooling. Dry ice sublimates (begins vaporizing) above -109.3 °F, but if transported and stored in the proper containers it could be the ideal solution for transporting and storing 1st-GEN Covid-19 vaccines. This enables vaccine to be kept at a cooler temperature even while being shipped to another continent.
Dry ice shortages are common even under ideal market trends and most experts in the dry ice industry have forecasted a dire shortage of dry ice once it’s used for transporting and storing Covid-19 vaccines. However, on the brighter side of the debate, the CGA (Compressed Gas Association) have been publicly stating there “should be” enough dry ice supply to satisfy demand in North America (Canada and USA).
Cleaning Technology to Address Dry Ice Shortage
Wet ice blasting (AKA – ice cube blasting) is a highly effective cleaning solution which is the result of blasting a surface with frozen H20 particles from a nozzle. So far only Coulson Ice Blast produces a machine that can accomplish this.
Wet ice blasting reduces media cost DRAMATICALLY (see cost comparison here) and in a time of dry ice shortages wet ice blasting is a life-saver for operators who need to sanitize their workplace(s) and avoid viruses like Covid-19. As soon as dry ice supply has halted, the only way to continue ice blasting is with Coulson Ice Blast wet ice blasting technology.
The three cleaning stages of wet ice blasting:
1. Bulk Removal Stage:
The initial stage of wet ice blasting whereby the largest portion of unwanted coating is removed from the substrate. For example, with paint removal this is where the flaked paint and extremely unstable matter is removed from the surface. With concrete cleaning this would be the removal of the largest “chunks” of unwanted debris (i.e. – mud or dirt). This all happens within milliseconds of the blast process.
2. Detailed Cleaning Stage:
This is the stage of wet ice blasting whereby the finer contaminants are dislodged and blown away. To use the above paragraph example of paint removal, this is where the harder-to-remove paint coating(s) are flash-frozen, bombarded, and blasted away. With the example of concrete cleaning this is when the fine contaminants “stuck” in the porous surface is aggravated and dislodged. It’s in this stage that common blast cleaning methods usually fail. For example, a pressure washer can never compete with the power of wet ice blasting in this stage.
3. Final Rinse Stage:
In this final stage of wet ice blasting, all of the unwanted debris and contaminants (visible and microscopic) are flushed from the substrate. The word flushed doesn’t mean by water though – it’s the compressed air in the stream that “blows away” the vast majority of the debris. There is some water in the stream due to the fact that in the blast some ice particles have thawed due to massive surface impact and heat generation via kinetic energy, but it’s the compressed air that does most of the heavy lifting (so to speak). This is why wet ice blasting doesn’t result in NEARLY the amount water waste as say common pressure washing does.
Wet Ice Or Dry Ice Media at the Touch of a Button
The IceStorm45 wet & dry ice (dual-mode) from Coulson Ice Blast incorporates both dry ice and wet ice blasting with just the touch of a button. This kind of flexibility can’t be overstated in a time of dry ice shortages that will occur in the future.What this means for cleaning contractors is they can:
- Greatly reduce media cost on most applications
- Still blast clean during times of dry ice shortages
- Have a MUCH wider range of application choices
For the above reasons the robotics industry leader KUKA has partnered with Coulson Ice Blast with the end state advancement of assembly line production facilities. This partnership will truly revolutionize the robotic automation processes around the world in the next decade. With the ability to use wet ice blasting the cost saving for large-scale automation facilities will be enormous. As the world struggles to find enough dry ice supply, wet ice blasting technology will be a god-send going forward.
For small business contractors providing mobile ice blasting services in their communities the IceStorm45 from Coulson Ice Blast is a huge boon. They can take a MUCH wider array of different cleaning applications AND pass along media cost savings to their customers if they so desire. Some operators continue to charge the same cost-per-hour or cost-per-square-foot and increase their bottom-line net profit. These decisions are of course for each business owner to make based on their location, client list, and/or business model and size.
The flexibility of cleaning with both wet ice and dry ice means that businesses can address any dry ice shortage with the use of wet ice cleaning (note: without purchasing additional equipment). For sensitive cleaning that cannot be exposed to moisture, operators can press the CO2 button and clean using dry ice. However, regular cleaning such as paint and debris removal from equipment, concrete and other surfaces can easily be handled by the wet ice function of the IceStorm45.In Conclusion
The world awaits the expanded results of the Phase-3 Covid-19 trials and ALL of the available data. This news is extremely encouraging, and the eventual roll-out of vaccine will start taking place in late December 2020 for front line workers, and 2021 for everyday consumers. The world’s supply of dry ice is sure to be taxed during this 1st Phase of vaccine deployment, storage, and transport. For those in the cleaning industry who are reliant on dry ice supply, they now have the ability to circumvent these shortages with the use of our Coulson Ice Blast technology.
The Coulson Ice Blast machines are extremely powerful when it comes to cleaning surfaces in any application, AND it’s important to note the power of our machines to kill viruses and bacteria. This is why our machines are ideal for use in the food processing industry.
If you would like a 14 Day Free Trial of our IceStorm45 (no obligation and we pay the shipping both ways) you can register here. If you want to learn more about our revolutionary technology, please contact our friendly team and they will help you with any questions you may have!