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Validated Shipping Boxes Are Vital to Preserve COVID-19 and Other Vaccine Viability

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On a glowing blue background, a gloved hand holds a syringe and tray of COVID-19 vaccine vials. Validated shipping boxes have integrated temperature monitoring and maintain a stable temperature for safer, more reliable shipping of vaccines.

Key Takeaways:

  • According to the WHO, 25% of vaccines are degraded before they reach their final destination
  • This is due to improper handling: specifically, vaccines were not maintained at the proper temperature
  • COVID-19 vaccinations, in particular, have to be kept at ultra-low temperatures that can’t be achieved in refrigerated transport
  • Validated shipping boxes with integrated data loggers are the economical, eco-friendly, and reusable solution

Vaccine shipping requires precise temperature control at all times, including during transport. Vaccines not kept at the proper temperature can be rendered useless at best and toxic at worst. The media reported spoiled COVID-19 vaccines totaling tens of thousands in Maine and Michigan alone due to a failure in the cold chain. Precise temperature monitoring is required, so you need validated shipping boxes. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) mandate thermal shipping containers with a temperature monitoring device. Validated shipping boxes can even be used for up to 10 days to temporarily store the COVID-19 vaccine as long as the temperature is monitored. 

It’s vital to safeguard the vaccine cold chain from the manufacturer to the end user. This means using a validated shipping box that provides superior thermal refrigeration capabilities with efficient insulation and a stable temperature range. The right shipping box eliminates the need for specialized refrigerated transport. Let’s explore this a bit further.

The challenges of the vaccine cold chain

Most vaccines, being biological products, require temperature monitoring because if they get too hot or too cold, they degrade. Most vaccines have to be kept quite cold but not frozen. That’s a delicate balance that may sound simple, but think about carrying a cold glass of water on a summer day and not allowing its temperature to change. This is one of the challenges of the cold chain.

So, how do you transport vaccines? You can use trucks, but that’s expensive. Refrigerators use a lot of power, and freezers need even more. And a cool box is undoubtedly required for last-mile delivery. Issues in the cold chain came into sharp focus with the COVID-19 vaccine, but almost all vaccines must be stored within one degree Fahrenheit of ideal temperature. Refrigerated trucks can’t reach the temperatures required.

For most vaccines, storage temperatures are between 35 degrees Fahrenheit and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The Moderna vaccine needs to be kept at minus four degrees Fahrenheit, while Pfizer’s needs to be kept at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit – temperatures that are difficult to maintain accurately. 

And temperature mistakes can be costly. The WHO says that about 25% of vaccines are degraded by the time they reach their destination. These vaccines are thrown away, leading to financial loss and delays in vaccines reaching those who need them.

Should you transport vaccines by refrigerated truck?

When shipping vaccines or any other refrigerated or frozen healthcare product, there are two ways to transport them: using validated shipping boxes or refrigerated transport. The challenge is choosing the right solution. Refrigerated trucks may not be your best bet, and here’s why.

  1. Refrigerated trucks just can’t do the job. Vaccines must be kept within a strict temperature range, so unless loading and unloading areas are refrigerated, you’re taking a significant risk.
  2. Refrigerated trucks can’t reach the low temperatures required by COVID-19 vaccines. The mRNA technology used in these vaccines is likely to be utilized in future vaccines, and this type of vaccine will always require super-low temperatures.
  3. Refrigerated trucks often have open segments where the temperature can’t be controlled, so part of the truck is hotter or cooler than other parts.
  4. Economics. Refrigerated trucks are expensive to run. The annual cost to run the refrigeration unit is about $4,000, plus maintenance costs of about $1,500. That doesn’t include fuel to get the truck from one place to another. This makes refrigerated transport expensive.
  5. The environment. We all know that fossil fuels contribute to global warming, not to mention air pollution. The dry ice used in cold boxes is very environmentally friendly. Even though it’s made from solid carbon dioxide, it doesn’t produce it or release it into the environment, so it doesn’t contribute to greenhouse gasses. 

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that refrigerated trucks cannot meet the needs of vaccine manufacturers, distributors, and end users. Using these trucks to transport vaccines is ineffective, costly, bad for the environment, and inadequate for vaccine viability. So what is the best solution?

Validated shipping boxes to the rescue

A validated shipping box means package integrity that guarantees vaccine shipments will arrive to the end user within a specific temperature range. This is the most reliable way to ship temperature-critical vaccines. The most effective validated shipping boxes integrate with data loggers to validate that vaccines, including for COVID-19, will arrive in perfect condition and ready for use. 

 CoolBoxus validated shipping boxes have temperature loggers integrated into a high-tech cold chain solution with precise temperature monitoring. The vacuum insulation panel (VIP) material within the walls of these insulated dry ice shipping boxes is 10 times more efficient than traditional insulation, maximizing space and minimizing size and weight. You achieve a more stable temperature range than active-only cooling solutions, and CoolBoxus can be used for both active and passive temperature control.

That means CoolBoxus can be used for long-distance transport as well as ad-hoc delivery, offering reliable temperature control while saving on fuel. These boxes are available in sizes from mini to large to meet all sizing requirements, with heights that allow them to fit together and take up less space. They are also designed for ease of use – just “plug and play.”

The data logger makes it easy to know if the temperature was maintained throughout the vaccine’s entire journey. It also serves as a single source of truth if any questions are asked about proper storage and transport. 

Marathon Products, the sole distributor of CoolBoxus, manufactures precision environmental monitoring devices for temperature, humidity, and vibration for the life sciences and semiconductor industries. Our highly reliable sensors can be used for low-temperature or high-temperature applications.

All of our devices are 100% tested to ensure reliability, are FDA 21cfr compliant, and we have a no questions asked return policy. We have monitoring devices for every cold supply chain need at competitive prices, so don’t ship without us! For more information, email us at or call us at 800-858-6872.

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