Getting coronavirus vaccines to every corner of the earth is critical – both from a public health and an ethical perspective. Vaccines now authorized for COVID-19 require a complicated cold supply chain to keep them within tightly controlled temperature ranges. While setting up such a supply chain is a challenge, most wealthy nations have what it takes.

Unfortunately, there are many places in the world that cannot support a cold supply chain, whether because of spotty electricity, bad roads or civil unrest. Tim Ford or the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Charles Schweik of the University of Massachusetts Amherst explain the problems posed by vaccines that need a cold chain and discuss a few ways to make vaccines easier to distribute globally.

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Daniel Merino

Assistant Editor: Science, Health, Environment

Getting vaccines to rural and hard-to-reach areas is critical for public health and ethical reasons. Hector Roqueta Rivero/Moment via Getty Images

The cold supply chain can’t reach everywhere – that’s a big problem for equitable COVID-19 vaccination

Timothy Ford, University of Massachusetts Lowell; Charles M. Schweik, University of Massachusetts Amherst

So far, the only COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use need to be kept frozen. But there are many places in the world that can't support a cold supply chain.


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