When people think of cold chains, they generally think of food items like meats, ice cream, dairy, produce, and other foods which stay cool or cold. While cold chains are an essential component of our food supply chains, they have many broader uses for our daily lives. A great example of this is within the pharmaceutical supply chains, specifically the movement of vaccines. Many medications have temperature tolerances, but few are as specific as vaccines which generally (save a few examples) must be maintained between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius. Any deviances from this temperature range can gravely impact the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine.
Even in wealthy, developed, and urban areas cooling units, refrigerated trucks, and other technology will fail, resulting in vaccines which cannot be used to properly protect the recipients. A bigger problem, however, is present in developing areas where essential infrastructure like electricity may not be consistent or even available. The lack of essential cooling devices makes it extremely difficult to deliver vaccines in a usable condition.
Improvements to cold chain in these developing areas will be essential to save lives. Childhood diseases like measles continue to decimate areas across the globe. Measles consistently ranks as one of the leading causes of childhood deaths around the world, killing 1 person ever 4 minutes in 2015 according to WHO. Measles is a preventable disease with the use of vaccines, but more than 30 million children globally remain unimmunized. In some areas, this is due to lack of adequate resources and information regarding vaccines, but in many areas, the problem lies in the lack of safe and effective vaccines being delivered.
Real-time temperature data is an excellent first step to improving supply chains of vaccines for areas which need it most. This can be achieved using IoT devices such as sensors throughout vehicles which can identify and alert to temperature fluctuations immediately. Systems like Routeique can be essential to improving the consistency of temperature during transportation, and when cooling systems do fail these systems make sure you are aware. More improvements will be essential to improving the availability of these life-saving medicines and help to reduce or eliminate preventable childhood diseases.