Life saving medicine doesn’t like hot temperatures, which makes it hard to get it to the remote villages where it’s often most needed.
The amazing new Passive Vaccine Storage Device keeps health workers informed about its movements and its cargo, and keeps that cargo totally cool for 30 days.
Every year, over 1 million children die from diseases that are preventable with vaccines. The problem isn’t just that vaccines aren’t available. Even when they are, breakdowns in the refrigerated vaccine supply chain (aka the “cold chain”)–which often occur in areas where power is unreliable–make them unusable.
Global Good, a collaboration between Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures, is pilot-testing a possible solution: the Passive Vaccine Storage Device, dubbed the “super-thermos” by Gates. The device, which has been in the works since 2008 (when Gates first challenged Intellectual Ventures to tackle the problem), keeps vaccines between zero and eight degrees Celsius for 30 to 60 days, depending on outside temperatures and humidity. That’s a big deal in many parts of the developing world, where health officials often see cold storage devices that can keep vaccines fresh for five days at the absolute maximum.
As you might guess from Gates’s nickname for the device, the super-thermos was inspired by the humble coffee thermos. “It’s a super-insulated, double-walled dewarthat holds the vaccine and ice in the middle in an inner bottle. A vacuum space separates it from the outer bottle, like a large coffee thermos,” says Kurt Armbruster, the project’s leader. The device features many layers of insulation in the vacuum space–the same insulation technology used to protect spacecraft from high temperatures.
If health officials are going to spend big bucks for something–the device costs $1,100–they’ll want to know if it’s being used correctly. So Global Good built in sensors and SMS capabilities for officials to keep track of the super-thermos’s location, interior temperature, exterior temperature, how long it has been opened, and for how long.
There are three layers to the capabilities: a simple temperature monitoring system inside and outside the device that logs data every 15 minutes and can be monitored when health workers plug in a USB stick; an SMS antenna and SMS telemetry system that dials out to a local phone number every night at midnight and sends a summary of the day’s temperatures, location, and statistics about how long and when it has been opened; and a GPS sensor that allows officials to track where the units are at any given time. Every device comes with all the feature sets, though Global Good says it will probably sell the super-thermoses in a basic and “plus” version.
via FastCoExist – ARIEL SCHWARTZ
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