Softbox, a global provider of passive temperature control packaging solutions, has been supporting Pfizer in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by developing a high-performance, temperature-controlled, reusable parcel shipper designed specifically for ultra-low temperature applications.

Softbox supported Pfizer with the development of the specialised and reusable ultra-low temperature (ULT) shipper to help them with the distribution of ultra-low temperature vaccines and storing them at Point of Use (POU) sites.  

Ultra-Low Temperature vaccines, such as BioNTech – the one developed by Pfizer, use mRNA (messenger RNA) technology and must be stored at temperatures between -90°C to -60°C to ensure that the vaccine’s quality and efficacy is maintained. The ULT shipper is reportedly capable of maintaining the required temperature during the shipping of COVID-19 vaccines between -90°C to -60°C for at least 10 days unopened.

The solution utilises high-performance insulation materials in conjunction with dry ice, to ensure long-term ultra-low temperature control. Based on current guidelines, the Softbox ULT Shipper can be opened twice a day, for up to three minutes at a time.

This allows clinicians at Point of Use (POU) sites to access the vaccine vials required for each day’s immunisation clinics without exposing the remaining vaccine stored within the shipper to ambient temperatures, thus ensuring the integrity of the vaccine is maintained.

When correctly managed, the ULT Shipper can be used to store vaccines for in excess of 30 days. Through a process called “Re-Icing” the dry ice in the Softbox ULT Shipper can be topped up, ensuring maximum thermal protection of the highly temperature-sensitive mRNA vaccines.

Tanya Alcorn, vice president, biopharma global supply chain at Pfizer, comments: “Softbox’s extensive knowledge and experience in temperature control packaging solutions and the cold chain industry was the right choice for us.

“They immediately understood the unprecedented task at hand that was in front of us with the distribution of the vaccine, and quickly started to work with us to develop a unique packaging system that does not waste any precious vaccine and creates a seamless experience for customers. Their technical capabilities and innovative approach helped us achieve an excellent result in a very short period of time.”