East Bay dry ice company ready to transport COVID-19 vaccines, but will there be enough?

ByCornell W. Barnard KGO logo
Saturday, December 12, 2020
East Bay dry ice company to transport vaccines for West Coast
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A Bay Area company is gearing up to produce enough dry ice to ship COVID-19 vaccines across the entire West Coast.

BENICIA, Calif. (KGO) -- The crush of demand for dry ice has never been greater. It's needed to pack millions of coronavirus vaccine doses for shipments around the world.

A Bay Area company is ready for the challenge, but dry ice supplies could soon be in short supply.

RELATED: Bay Area counties rush to secure cold storage for Pfizer vaccine

There's a big chill inside the Benicia warehouse of Pacific Dry Ice, where thousands of pellets and blocks are standing by.

"Obviously it's all hands on deck with the COVID-19 vaccine," said Tim Gentry.

Gentry is Pacific's operations manager. He says his crew and manufacturing plant are gearing up to produce enough dry ice needed to pack COVID-19 vaccine doses for shipment across the the Bay Area and West Coast.

The Pfizer vaccine must be kept at 94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

VIDEO: A look inside the low-temperature coolers needed to transport Pfizer vaccine

The Pfizer vaccine could be a game-changer in the fight against coronavirus, but storing and distributing it, presents it's own unique set of challenges.

"Dry ice is -109 degrees which is the reason why dry ice is a great product to keep vaccine cold," he said.

Depot manager Tim Ramos is getting lots of calls.

"We're getting to help people out, I just got a call from Napa County looking for ice," said Ramos.

Dry ice, once a fun prop for Halloween, is now playing a critical role in the pandemic.

"Dry ice is is sold CO2, carbon dioxide," Gentry said.

Its shelf life is short.

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Dry ice is constantly fogging itself back into gas, ten pounds can disappear within 24 hours, so the more the better, to keep vaccines safe during transport.

But supplies of CO2 gas, used to make dry ice may not keep up with demand.

"Overall there is a finite supply of CO2, which equates to a finite supply of dry ice," said Gentry.

No shortages yet and for now destinations are unknown. But this company like others across the country are ready to roll and freeze to help a country in need.

"It's great to be a part of this the solution, playing our part from manufacturer to distribution and to folks who need it," Gentry added.

If you have a question or comment about the COVID-19 vaccine, submit via the form below or here.