Ford Motor Co. has ordered a dozen ultra-cold freezers to store vaccines globally when they become available in an effort to keep COVID-19 from disrupting its operations again, the company confirmed Tuesday.
At least three major drug companies have reported late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world waits for scientific breakthroughs that will end a pandemic that has pummeled the world economy and led to 1.4 million deaths. The new type of vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna Inc. require lower temperatures for storage.
The Dearborn-based automaker’s purchase, first reported by Reuters and confirmed by other media, is similar to efforts by U.S. states and cities to buy equipment to store millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines at temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit), far below the standard for vaccines of 2-8 degrees C (36-46 degrees F).
“We’re doing this so that we can make the vaccine available to our employees on a voluntary basis,” Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker told Reuters.
Details of how Ford will use the freezers are still being worked out, she said.
General Motors Co. hasn’t bought any freezers for vaccine storage but said it’s taking steps to make a vaccine available to its employees, The Detroit News reported.
With coronavirus cases surging across the country and globally, health care systems are already racing to buy the special freezers as the potential for supply shortages — a prevailing theme in the U.S. pandemic response — looms large. One group purchasing leader said hospitals ordering today will likely wait up to four months to get their freezers.
Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System has purchased freezers for each of its five acute-care hospitals specifically to accommodate the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Rox Gatia II, the health system’s pharmacy director, said last week.
Modern Healthcare and the Associated Press contributed to this report.