Panasonic enters $22bn vaccine storage race with freezer containers


Panasonic has obtained a deluge of requests from European and US logistics corporations to trial an ultra-cold freezer field it has developed for the transportation of Covid-19 vaccines, the Japanese group stated.

The Tesla provider’s entry into the race to develop merchandise for the fast-growing world vaccine storage business comes because the Japanese authorities prepares to roll out its Covid-19 inoculation programme from late February. Public criticism is mounting in Japan over the sluggish tempo of the scheme.

“There’s a severe scarcity of freezer containers even because the vaccine rollout has began globally,” Shinya Kojima, chief engineer at Panasonic’s equipment unit, stated in an interview. “We’ve already obtained so many inquiries from everywhere in the world together with Japan, the US, Singapore, France, South Korea and China.” 

Mr Kojima tailored Panasonic’s expertise for conserving vitality in fridges to develop a conveyable field that can be utilized to move vaccines and different supplies at a temperature of minus 70C. 

Of the 2 forms of containers, the bigger 120-litre field is able to storing 5,000 vaccine doses on the ultra-cold temperature for 18 days by packing it with 34kg of dry ice. 

The corporate had already made an analogous product in 2019 however Mr Kojima launched a brand new mission in December to enhance storage circumstances to suit the distinctive necessities of the Covid-19 vaccines beneath growth.

With the upgrades, the containers can now be used to retailer the vaccine developed by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, which have to be transported at minus 70C. Final week, the Japanese authorities secured a cope with the US pharmaceutical firm for 144m doses of its shot, sufficient to inoculate about half of the nation’s inhabitants. 

Panasonic plans to distribute samples of its containers, known as Vixell, to pharmaceutical and logistics corporations from the top of March. It would start promoting or leasing them shortly afterwards.

The group has not disclosed pricing and manufacturing plans for the containers, however Mr Kojima stated it might begin producing a number of thousand per 12 months and enhance its capability relying on demand. 


Anticipated dimension of the worldwide vaccine storage and packaging enterprise by 2027

Shares in Panasonic have risen 8.4 per cent because the firm unveiled the expertise on Thursday, underscoring sturdy investor curiosity within the progress potential of the vaccine storage enterprise.

With the size Panasonic is contemplating, the storage containers are unlikely to have a big effect on its earnings within the quick time period. But it surely has a protracted historical past in refrigeration and freezing expertise in addition to a minority stake in PHC Holdings, its former healthcare unit and an enormous participant in vaccine storage that’s now managed by non-public fairness group KKR.

The worldwide marketplace for vaccine storage and packaging enterprise is anticipated to develop from $22.3bn final 12 months to $43.3bn by 2027 with storage accounting for the most important income, in response to US-based market analysis agency Grand View Analysis. Different key gamers within the medical freezer market embrace Thermo Fisher Scientific of the US and Chinese language equipment maker Haier.

Past vaccines, Mr Kojima additionally stated the containers may very well be used to retailer different medical medicine in addition to semiconductor supplies that required stringent temperature management. “We are going to research the market response and think about the right way to increase this enterprise,” he stated.


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