U.S. meatpacker Smithfield Foods offers to store COVID-19 vaccines in ultra-cold freezers

By Tom Polansek
·1 min read

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. meatpacker Smithfield Foods has offered to help health officials distribute COVID-19 vaccines and store them in ultra-cold freezers that are in high demand to support a vaccination campaign, the company's chief administrative officer said on Thursday.

U.S. states, cities, and hospitals are scrambling to buy freezers that can safely store Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine at temperatures of minus 70 Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit), significantly below the standard for vaccines of 2-8 C (36-46 F).

Smithfield, owned by China's WH Group, has multiple ultra-cold freezers. The company is "ready and willing to assist health agencies should storage capacity become constrained," said Chief Administrative Officer Keira Lombardo.

"As it becomes more clear that successful vaccines will become available, we have communicated our capabilities and continued willingness to partner with health officials, including with vaccine distribution and storage," she said in a statement to Reuters.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Bernadette Baum)