Vaccines need to be kept at very specific temperatures – otherwise they lose their potency and effectiveness. To get a vaccine from the manufacturer to a patient requires a continuous temperature-controlled string of transportation and storage called the cold supply chain.

Experts estimate the world is going to need between 12 billion and 15 billion doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and many of the leading candidates are RNA-based vaccines that need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures. The current cold supply chain is not prepared to deliver these types of vaccines at these numbers, says University of Massachusetts researcher Anna Nagurney. She explains what it will take to safely distribute the coronavirus vaccine once one is developed.

Also today:

Daniel Merino

Assistant Editor: Science, Health, Environment

Trucks, planes and storage facilities all need to be able to keep a vaccine cold. J2R/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Keeping coronavirus vaccines at subzero temperatures during distribution will be hard, but likely key to ending pandemic

Anna Nagurney, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The cold supply chain keeps vaccines fresh during distribution, but the current system is nowhere near large enough to distribute the billions of COVID-19 vaccines that the world needs.


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