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Danby developing freezer line to store COVID vaccine

 23 November 2020     HGO Staff 

GUELPH, Ontario – Danby Appliances has announced it is developing a new line of freezers capable of storing the COVID-19 vaccines at temperatures approaching -122.8° F (-80° C) that are currently being tested by a number of drug companies such as Pfizer and Moderna.

Both are testing vaccines that require storage and transportation at these extremely low temperatures.

The Canadian appliance maker produces over 500,000 freezers a year and believes it can help with the need for medical freezers when the COVID-19 vaccine goes to market. Danby already has experience making medical fridges with their Danby Health, a medical-grade refrigerator equipped for storing temperature sensitive goods.

“Currently there are freezer shortages and I expect the same high demand for medical refrigeration as the vaccines roll out,” company owner and chief executive officer Jim Estill said in a statement speaking to the projected demand for vaccine storage needs.

Danby is currently developing a series of medical-grade freezes – such as those seen here – capable of storing the COVID-19 vaccines being tested by at least two of the world’s pharmaceutical giants, both of which need ultra-low temperatures approaching -122.8°F.The current Danby Health line-up is not equipped to reach the low temperatures required for the new vaccines so a new freezer line up is in development.

“The complexity of building an -122.8°F (-80 C) freezer is massive. It’s not at all a simple freezer, but we make half a million freezers a year, so we can do it,” Estill said, noting Danby’s first hyper-cold line of freezers come in a variety of sizes and specs to meet the demand for the new vaccine storage requirements.

The first freezers available to market will not be available for at least 120 days – roughly early April 2021 – which should align with the timing of the demand. It is expected the low temperature freezers will be required in hospitals, pharmacies, and transportation hubs in order to handle the double dose vaccine required for both citizens of both Canada and the United States, which has been estimated at between 500 and 800 million doses.

“We are pulling out all the stops. It’s a top priority of the company,” Estill said. “This can make a very meaningful impact in the world. A vaccine is no good if it can’t be distributed or stored.”

Danby has already helped in the fight against COVID-19 by working to assemble 10,000 ventilators, a task which is about 60% complete. They also recently donated 500 air purifiers to the Toronto District School Board. Those purifiers will be placed in some 37 schools across this country’s largest city, each of which was identified has having a high risk of exposure to the virus.

“Danby’s tag line is ‘Do the Right Thing’,” Estill said. “I always encourage everybody to think that way – what is the part that you can do?”

When developed, there will be four new low-temperature freezers added to the Danby Health line, each built to maintain the integrity of the vaccine as much as possible. They will include:

  • Danby Health Model # DHCF116 – an 11.6 cubic foot (328 L) -122.8°F (-86°C) ultra-low temperature medical grade chest freezer for laboratory and medical use.
  • Danby Health Model # DHUF14 – a 14 cubic foot (340 L) -122.8°F (-86°C) ultra-low temperature upright freezer designed to meet the demands of long-term and safe storage of highly valued medical and laboratory materials.
  • Danby Health Model # DHUF24 – a 23.9 cubic foot (678 L) -122.8°F (-86°C) ultra-low temperature upright freezer rated for medical and laboratory use.
  • Danby Health Model # DHUF30 – a 30.3 cubic foot (678 L) -122.8°F (-86°C) ultra-low temperature upright freezer specifically designed for medical and laboratory use. 

Related Story: Jim Estill named EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Ontario

Related Story: Danby to resume manufacturing small appliances in Guelph


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