Most vaccines require cooling
temperatures between 2 and 8 °C and must not be frozen. According to the Global
Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization (GAVI) that finances and supports
vaccination campaigns in 55 of the least developed countries, 20 % of the
currently installed cooling devices do not function, 60 % of the devices expose
vaccines to inappropriate temperatures and 90 % of the devices are outdated. As
vaccine shipments pass through multiple cooling devices, at least 75 % of
shipments are at risk of damage from insufficient cooling. However, it is not
only too hot temperatures that are critical; wrong treatment leads to 30 % of
vaccines spoiling from accidental freezing alone.
One refrigerator can carry vaccines worth over USD 4,500. If that refrigerator fails or does not deliver the cooling necessary to keep them at between 2 and 8 °C, the organisation or government agency that is orchestrating the vaccination campaign will suffer a heavy loss. If more vaccine shipments arrive before the refrigerator or energy system is functioning again, the losses will multiply. Furthermore immunisation has a substantial economic impact: Every dollar invested in childhood immunisation in low- and middle-income countries is estimated to yield a USD 16 return through preventing healthcare costs, as well as lost wages and productivity losses from illness. These high costs and strong economic effects result in a high willingness to pay for reliable cooling. If immunisation activities have to be suspended for prolonged periods of time due to failing cold chain equipment, missing out on the aforementioned positive impact can be counted as economic damage to the region affected. Due to the large amount of cooling equipment that is not working properly, it can be estimated that the economic costs of exposing vaccines to inappropriate storage temperatures are in the billions of dollars annually.
The main cause of unstable cooling in developing countries is unreliable or no access to electricity. More than 1.2 billion people worldwide live without access to electricity, mainly in the developing countries of the Global South, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and on the Indian sub-continent. According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, almost half of the health facilities in GAVI supported countries have to operate without connection to a reliable electricity grid. As most refrigeration technologies rely heavily on electricity, the cooling of pharmaceuticals and especially vaccines poses a critical challenge in these regions.
By evolving adsorption refrigeration technology from industrial scale applications to fit "small" applications like refrigerators, Coolar has developed a cooling system that can tap into heat from any source to power a normal refrigerator with 60°C heat instead of electricity.
Coolar's system can tap into a variety of heat sources, but the most abundant source for powering medical refrigerators in developing regions is heat from the sun. Wherever electricity is scarce or not available at all, energy storage is crucial. As the system is powered by hot water instead of electricity it can use robust and reliable isolated water tanks to store energy - no hazardous batteries needed!
Furthermore Coolar operates with zero carbon emissions thanks to using clean solar heat to generate hot water and it contains no hazardous substances or moving parts. It only uses water as refrigerant and silica gel for the cooling process. This way it is also the most durable and environmentally sustainable solution.
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