Tagged with:
Press Release

New freezers provide safe storage of nearly 2 million 2-ml vials of COVID-19 vaccine

CHAPEL HILL, NC – All 15 research institutions within the UNC System will soon be receiving 61 new freezers capable of safely storing COVID-19 vaccines at temperatures as low as -80 Celsius (-112 Fahrenheit). The freezers will support state and local public health agencies, hospitals, and pharmacies with the critical logistics of sub-zero storage and subsequent distribution of COVID-19 vaccines that started arriving in North Carolina this past week. Vaccines stored at UNC System institutions will be distributed according to the State’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan at the direction of state and local public health officials.

The new freezers, provided by the NC Policy Collaboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will increase North Carolina’s total vaccine cold-storage capacity by 1.86 million two-milliliter vials. A combination of 32 large freezers and 29 smaller mobile units will add flexibility for transport and storage of vaccines across the state. UNC System campuses that serve rural areas and underserved populations will receive additional mobile freezer units, including the state’s six Historically Minority-Serving Institutions.

Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Winston-Salem State University will each receive three smaller mobile freezer units. Appalachian State University and UNC Asheville will also receive two mobile units. The four UNC System institutions that partnered with the Collaboratory to contribute and reprogram funding are NCCU, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Pembroke, and Winston-Salem State.

CAMPUSLARGE FREEZER UNITScapacity = 56,700 2-ml vials eachSMALL FREEZER UNITScapacity = 1,400 2-ml vials eachCAPACITYunit = 2-ml vials
App State22116,200
NC A&T23117,600
NC State21114,800

“The UNC System is uniquely suited to assist, and campuses have already reported being contacted by statewide and local health officials regarding the complex logistics involved in COVID-19 vaccine storage and distribution,” said Dr. Jeffrey Warren, Executive Director of the NC Policy Collaboratory. “Knowing sub-zero storage and transport capability at sub-zero temperatures is critically important to protecting our citizens, I am indebted to the purchasing team at UNC-Chapel Hill who executed the purchasing approvals in just under a week to help increase freezer capacity across each of our 15 research campuses.”

The NC Policy Collaboratory was established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2016 to utilize and disseminate the research expertise across the University of North Carolina System for practical use by state and local government. In May 2020, state lawmakers appropriated $29 million to the Collaboratory to develop and oversee a pan-campus COVID-19 research portfolio that has resulted in more than 85 individual projects across 14 UNC System campuses.