The Vaccine Needs to Be Cold As Balls

Illustration for article titled The Vaccine Needs to Be Cold As Balls
Image: Colleen Fenwick Dutcher (Shutterstock)

The U.S. is inching closer to a mass vaccination attempt as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for covid-19 moves forward after being approved for emergency use authorization last Friday. The rush has spawned many a question, such as: Who gets it? What will be the best distribution method? How soon can I book brunch after my entire friend group has been vaccinated? The answers to these are unclear—but one question that no one has asked now has a firm answer. How cold does it need to be to properly store the vaccine? According to Popular Science, the answer is cold as balls. Specifically, the balls that comprise the best thing to happen to amusement parks, Dippin Dots ice cream.

If you’ve never had Dippin Dots, you are missing out on a truly beautiful ice cream experience. The Dots are ice cream frozen to such a point that instead of being in a cream form they are tiny little balls that stick to your tongue before dissolving into a puddle of cold ass joy. These signature balls “form only if stored at -49 degrees Fahrenheit,” Popular Science explains. The vaccine has to be stored in a similar fashion to maintain its integrity but the temperature difference between some Dots and some vax is astounding.

The COVID vaccine currently being shipped around the country—manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech and granted an emergency use authorization on Friday—needs to be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit, or else important components can degrade. Another vaccine, made by Moderna in partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and expected to get its authorization this week, requires storage and shipping at -4 degrees Fahrenheit.

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I am morally opposed to the cold as a concept and my brain, which is not wired to understand science, can’t help but imagine a nurse pulling an icicle syringe out of a deep freezer, plunging a semi-solid liquid into my arm and that liquid freezing all the cells in my body in order to prevent infection. Somehow, even with blood the temperature and consistency of a Slushee in my body, I will survive. It will all be fine. The Dippin Dots method will be the savior of hundreds of thousands. There will be an ice cream themed parade.

None of that will happen, of course, because the world is not a poorly written science fiction movie no matter how closely it resembles one. In the science reality of it all, Pfizer is working on establishing a shipping and distribution method that maintains the vaccine at the necessary frozen temperatures through each step of its movement. Logistically, it’s difficult. But if the good people at Dippin Dots can get their product from their factories to Six Flags and the Bronx Zoo, then hope is still alive.

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DISCUSSION

bls013
cheese for breakfast

The vaccine does not go into you cold. Vials hold a concentrated dose - each vial is broken up into (I THINK) 10 doses, brought to room temperature and injected. I believe they have one hour to inject before they go bad.

The only issue with the Pfizer vaccine is rural areas who may not have the -80C freezers to keep the vaccine stable, and who might not be able to get 10 people at a time to vaccinate.