Smithfield Foods offers freezers for COVID-19 vaccine

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Smithfield Foods has offered the use of its ultra-low temperature freezers to store COVID-19 vaccines once they become available.

“As it becomes more clear that successful vaccines will become available, we have communicated our capabilities and continued willingness to partner with health officials, including with vaccine distribution and storage,” said Kiera Lombardo, the company’s chief administrative officer.

According to Reuters, U.S. states, cities and hospitals are scrambling to buy freezers that can safely store Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine at temperatures of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The United Kingdom issued its approval for Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 2, which the American pharmaceutical company developed with a small German company known as BioNTech. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to give the OK for mass inoculations in the United States.

“We do expect that, working with our health agency partners, we can facilitate the rapid distribution of the vaccine to food and agriculture workers,” Lombardo said. “We stand ready as well to assist, as possible, with distribution to workers in other essential categories through our site-based health care facilities.”

A panel of independent experts advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control voted on Dec. 1 to recommend that the nation’s 21 million health care workers, along with residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities be the first Americans to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna, the two companies closest to gaining U.S. approval for their vaccines, have estimated they will have enough vaccines to inoculate no more than 22.5 million Americans by January.

“We have assessed our ultra-low freezer capabilities and capacity and are ready and willing to assist health agencies should storage capacity become constrained,” Lombardo said.