Chapman’s Ice Cream could play a role in storing Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine

Published: December 21, 2020

The front of Chapman's Ice Cream building Photo Courtesy of Chapman's Ice Cream

Frozen treats may not be the most in-demand product in Chapman’s Ice Cream’s freezers come 2021. The company, based out of Markdale, Ont., is in discussions with the Grey Bruce Health Unit about providing much-needed subzero freezer space for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Overall, Canada has secured 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 40 million doses of the Moderna vaccine with the option to buy more. However, storage of the vaccines could pose an issue. While the Moderna vaccine can be stored at -20C—approximately the temperature of an average freezer—the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at -70C, requiring specialized freezers.

This type of ultra-cold storage temperature is unusual and could make it difficult to distribute the vaccine to rural communities. That’s where Chapman’s comes in. “We know a whole lot about freezers,” said Ashley Chapman, the company’s vice president.

While the health unit has yet to approve Chapman’s as a storage facility, the company has taken it upon itself to be prepared just in case. “As soon as we saw that the Pfizer vaccine needed to be stored at -70C, we knew these freezers [would] be in great shortage,” Chapman said. “So, we reached out to our equipment supplier to secure needed freezing units for our health unit, if such need arises.”

The current temperature in Chapman’s multiple freezer storage facilities is -35C. The new equipment will be placed inside the current freezer space to help it maintain the required storage temperature. The new equipment is expected to be delivered this week and will be installed in a heavily secured location, isolated from any ice cream products.

“The main point is that we want to help in any way we can,” Chapman said. “We only want to make sure that those who hope to get this vaccine will have a viable chance at getting it.”

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