A company specialising in temperature-regulated storage for the pharmaceutical industry has said that capacity issues should not be a problem in Ireland when it comes to storing one of the anticipated Covid-19 vaccines.

There are concerns that the need for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine to be stored at temperatures well below zero will pose distribution challenges.

However, CEO of Q1 Scientific Stephen Delaney said that if the private sector and public services come together, "there won’t be capacity storage issues" in this country.

The Waterford-based company already stores and distributes medical products at such temperature levels and says it is ready to do the same for the Covid-19 vaccine.

"Cold chain distribution in Pharma is complicated even in normal times," Mr Delaney told the latest The Science of Business podcast, released today.

"And right now Ireland will need to make available its cold chain capacity to accommodate deliveries of the Covid-19 vaccine."

He said Q1 Scientific’s track record gives the company confidence in its ability to be part of the solution.

"We have 50 stability chambers at our facility in Waterford, all operating at different temperatures depending on the demand of our customers.

"The core of our business is how strictly controlled and monitored our chambers are, we don't have a chamber that is roughly 25 degrees, they are precisely 25 degrees at every minute of every day for the specified timeframe.

"We operate storage from 25 degrees all the way down to -80. We have probes inside each room and they take a reading every minute, these readings are then sent back to a centralised system which is bespoke to Q1 Scientific. Controls like this are the reason that pharmaceutical companies work with us."

The new Pfizer BioNTech vaccine will have to be stored and distributed at -70 degrees and, speaking on the storage facilities that will be needed, Mr Delaney said: "I don't think there is going to be a problem.

"We have spoken with all of our suppliers discussing our options around scaling up our own facilities as the challenges around -70 storage is mainly the capacity within the chamber.

"These chambers are quite small, but there are a lot of companies supplying these chambers into Ireland with the last 40 years and I really don't think there is a big problem coming down the track in terms of capacity."

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