Pluss Advanced Technology develops temperature control tech for efficacy of Covid-19 vaccine

Venkatesh Ganesh Mumbai December 2 | Updated on December 02, 2020

The tech helps keep the vaccine stable at desired temperature

A Tata Capital-backed company, Pluss Advanced Technologies, has developed a ‘temperature control’ technology, which can ensure efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines.

Vaccines have to be stored in lower temperatures and are often under controlled temperatures. However, when it needs to be transported in geographically diverse areas in India, it results in temperature variance, which, in turn, impacts the efficacy of the vaccine. It is in this area that Pluss Advanced Technologies, a Tata Capital-backed energy storage company, has developed a Phase Change Materials (PCMs) solution, called Celsure. PCM technology has the ability to absorb, store and release large amounts of latent heat over a defined temperature range and can act as a thermal barrier which keeps the vaccine stable.

“PCMs are ideal for thermal energy storage as they are highly cost effective, stable, environment friendly and maintain desired temperature without the need for external source of energy,” said Vineet Chadha, Partner, Tata Capital Innovations Fund, which is a part of Tata Capital. Typically, vaccines are stored in low temperature freezers and doses are better planned in cases such as polio. In the case of Covid-19, the numbers are daunting.

Generally, vaccine makers design their own variant of a refrigerator to keep the temperature controlled. The issue, however, is when it is taken out, and exposed to frequent variations in temperature, can reduce the potency of the vaccines, said Chadha.

Cost factor

So, would this add to the cost of the vaccines? For example, a shipment of 500 vaccines costing ₹200 each needs to be transported from Hyderabad to Delhi. The packaging options are ice pack or dry ice-based costing ₹1,000 and a PCM based solution costing ₹2,000. “If the temperature is not maintained in the desired range, the total loss is ₹1 lakh,” said Samit Jain, Managing Director and Founder, Pluss.

Also, a power outage can break the cold chain which could result in the vaccine losing its effectiveness.

Vaccine makers on their part have put in place storage protocols. Recently, Serum Institute India CEO, Adar Poonawalla had said that its vaccines can be stored in 2 -8 degrees Celsius and could cost ₹500-600. The Pfizer-BioNTech SE vaccine must be transported at minus 70 degrees Celsius for a long time period, which is a herculean challenge in India. Moderna has said that its vaccine can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures of 2 -8 degrees Celsius for a month and it can be stored for up to 6 months at minus 20 Celsius. According to WHO estimates, more than 50 per cent of vaccines may be wasted globally every year because of temperature control, logistics and shipment-related issues.

Jain is of the view that if the Covid-19 vaccine loses its efficacy by the time it is administered then the economic costs will be far higher.

In a recent meeting with Indian vaccine makers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed matters relating to logistics, transport, cold chain with regard to last mile delivery.

Published on December 02, 2020

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