Express parcel business, DPD Laser, has announced its partnership with helium and natural gas company, Renergen, which has launched its Cryo-Vacc Covid-19 vaccine freezer prototype.

The unit can keep vaccines ultra-cold, delivering a temperature range of 8ºC to -150ºC, for up to 25 days, and can store up to 780 vials (4 700 doses), without a need for electricity.

Africa has secured 12-million vials from different manufacturers, but there have been many concerns about maintaining the ultra-cold storage temperature (-70ºC and -20ºC) which must not be breached in transit, or at the point of vaccination to ensure the integrity of the vaccine.

Cryo-Vacc can regulate temperature and provide accurate readings while in transit, as well as GPS tracking to ensure the cold chain can be audited.

With the recent release of the NDoH tender for the distribution of vaccines in South Africa, Renergen decided to team up with DPD Laser, part of The DPDgroup. DPD Laser offers last-mile courier express and infrastructure throughout South Africa.

“We have been serving South Africans for over 30 years, and we are excited to bring our extensive coverage and best-in-breed, technology-driven delivery services to enable mission-critical vaccine distribution using Cryo-Vacc,” says Anton Visagie, CEO of DPD Laser.

Discussions have begun between DPD Laser and various wholesalers throughout South Africa and neighbouring countries to establish demand for Cryo-Vacc, and providing comparison to the traditional approach of dry-ice and cold plates.

The disadvantage of the traditional cold chain approach is that temperatures cannot be adjusted when deviations are recorded from manufacturers specifications.

Manufacturers allow for minimal deviation during transit and at the point of vaccination, which in most instances do not have the required infrastructure to comply.

The other advantage of using Cryo-Vacc is that the case can be used as a temporary storage unit (25 days).

“This is a turning point for the country. In 2021, we have already received news of vaccines landing in our country, this week healthcare workers will start being vaccinated, and now the Cryo-Vacc will allow DPD Laser to play our part by combining the best that South African technology has to offer, underpinned by world-class partners working together for a South African solution,” concludes Visagie.