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Sunday, July 25, 2021

‘Covid vaccine storage facilities need back up power solutions for uninterrupted immunization’

THE Philippines, although a bit behind some countries when it comes to immunization, has just started to roll out its Covid-19 vaccination program since the arrival of the first batch of 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by China late last month.

While the initial two batches of this brand, together with those of British-Swedish manufacturer AstraZeneca were already delivered to the country, more jabs are expected from them and others, such as Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of the population this year.

With the nation’s possession of more than 1.5 million doses of vaccines, health organizations must ensure their readiness to receive and administer these life-saving pharmaceuticals.There are two strategies identified by health experts to store these correctly, depending on their required temperatures.

For instance, the Department of Health rented private warehouses to store vaccines that need storage temperatures of 2°C to 8°C and -20°C. The agency will also tap the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, the primary storage location of vaccines used for the government’s National Immunization Program.

On the other hand, the vaccines that require -70°C or ultracold storage facilities, such as Pfizer and BioNTech, will be stored in private warehouses of third-party logistics providers contracted by the government. Hospitals that will receive these vaccines are also already purchasing ultracold freezers designed to keep them.

As the facilities are made available to store the vaccines, however, there are other critical components of the solution that should not be overlooked: The availability of power and back up system to keep these equipment running.

According to Vertiv, freezers require a great deal of power to consistently maintain such low temperatures.

“If the power source is compromised for any reason, it may put the limited vaccine supply at risk and could be disastrous at this critical stage in the fight against Covid-19,” said Jason Lim, country manager of Vertiv Philippines.

Making the ‘right choice’

THE global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions underscored the importance of an emergency backup power for the low-temperature freezers as a part of the solution at each location where the vaccines will be kept. Ideally, it will include an intelligent uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that meets the following five criteria:

Online double conversion technology. There are three major types of UPS system configurations: offline, line-interactive, and online double conversion. For the most mission-critical applications, the latter offers the most vital degree of protection. With online double-conversion UPS solution, ultra-low temperature freezers will be fully isolated from raw utility power, protecting the freezers from power sags, surges, blackouts, or brownouts that could undermine their ability to keep the vaccines inside at the right temperature.

Zero transfer time to batteries. Even in applications that utilize a generator, there is transfer time required in switching from the primary power source to the backup generator. During that lag, freezer operation can be negatively affected, endangering the contents inside. A double-conversion UPS fills the transfer time gap with battery power until the generator kicks in. The UPS should transfer to battery backup power instantaneously for premium protection, ensuring a truly uninterruptible supply of power and a constant holding temperature for the vaccines.

Scalable runtime. A generator is not always available, or contingency planning for critical systems needs hours of battery runtime instead of just minutes. In these cases, a UPS model that can detect and connect with external battery cabinets to access additional battery power can offer this level of support.

UPS remote monitoring capabilities. It is important to know that the UPS is always functioning as intended and doing its job round the clock. Facility personnel must know if the UPS batteries are fully charged and ready to discharge if and when they are needed. An intelligent UPS enables monitoring both remotely and locally, helping personnel manage battery health and proactively predict battery replacement dates. Alarm notifications delivered via e-mail and text keep staff informed of any power issues and speed up response time if there is ever a problem with the units.

Easy installation and operation. With so much on the plates of health-care operations at present, a UPS cannot add more complexity to the equation. A plug-and-play system that is fast to install and configure and supports multiple freezers guarantees that emergency backup power remains a help. A compact, flexible form factor that can be mounted on the floor or wall further streamlines installation and takes up little space. Finally, a user-friendly, easy-to-read interface for system insights and diagnosis helps simplify ongoing system operation and maintenance.

Image credits: Manila PIO

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