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With the imminent arrival of coronavirus vaccines that will need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, American companies are gearing up for a massive logistical effort to aid their distribution.

Automaker Ford has ordered its own freezers while meat-processing giant Smithfield said it is ready to put the cold room at its abattoirs at the disposal of vaccine roll-out operations.

Companies specialising in insulated containers have been on a war footing for weeks after Pfizer and BioNTech said the vaccine they had jointly developed needs to be stored at -70C.

US logistics giant UPS is already producing 500kg of dry ice an hour in its depots and has developed portable freezers capable of storing the vaccines.

But companies not directly linked to the manufacture, storage or transport of vaccines are also stepping up.

« We have assessed our ultra-low freezer capabilities and capacity and are ready and willing to assist health agencies if storage capacity becomes constrained, » Smithfield chief administrative director Keira Lombardo said.

The meatpacker, which suffered a large number of cases of Covid-19 in some of its slaughterhouses, said it now stands ready to help authorities distribute the vaccine.

Ford has ordered a dozen ultra-cold freezers in anticipation of the arrival of vaccines, to offer them to employees who want them when they are available.

When the virus began to spread in the spring in the US, the company had to temporarily close its factories. The group has since resumed its activities but with strict health precautions.


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