2021 will see a lot of different types of technology come to the forefront. With the anticipated rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, technology will play a huge role in the process of getting the vaccines safely from their point of origin to clinics and hospitals where they will be administered to the public. One specific piece of technology will be key to the success of this process. It is called a data logger and in this article, we will take a closer look at what data loggers are and how they will ensure the COVID-19 vaccines are distributed safely to their destinations.
What Is A Data Logger?
A data logger is a monitoring device. Depending on the specific design and intended use, data loggers use various sensors to measure different environmental conditions. They include temperature, humidity, pressure, and illuminance to name a few. Some data loggers can record more than one different condition depending on the sensors it contains. The purpose of data loggers is to perform ongoing measurements of these conditions and to track that they fall within pre-programmed limits. Should any of the conditions being monitored fall outside of the selected limits, the data logger will automatically alert users to encourage human intervention. The data collected by the portable instrument can be downloaded for analysis and shared through various devices.
What Makes Data Loggers So Valuable With COVID-19 Vaccines
Data loggers are extremely effective in extreme conditions. They rely on built-in sensors that can operate regardless of the conditions. The technology used in data loggers is relatively basic. The sensors measure different conditions and the data is collected and stored on a microprocessor that is housed inside of the unit. Data loggers typically operate with batteries or contain rechargeable batteries and all information they collect can be downloaded to other devices to be reviewed. Due to the portable design of data loggers, they can be placed in very small locations where most other measuring devices would not fit nor function properly. Data loggers are the primary means of monitoring temperature for vaccines and other sensitive assets. Dickson has an in-depth explanation of the role data loggers play in environmental monitoring.
How They Are Used In Vaccine Development
The conditions under which vaccines are developed are typically considered extremes. When these conditions are not maintained, the vaccine is said to be unusable. Media reports over the years have indicated that over 50% of various vaccines created annually go to waste due to issues related to logistics, shipping incidents, and temperature control. This is why it is so important that the cold chain from the manufacturer, through transportation and storage is maintained for vaccines to arrive at their final destination (hospitals and clinics) in usable condition. The reason why cold conditions are utilized is because of the unique and innovative ways the vaccines are developed. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were developed using a new approach that unlocks the immune defenses within the body it is administered to. This new method relies on messenger RNA (mRNA) which turns individuals cells into a manufacturing source of one specific coronavirus protein. However, that mRNA can be easily destroyed so it requires extreme temperatures to protect it before injection.
How They Are Used With Different Vaccines
Because there are many different types of vaccines available, data monitoring has to adapt to the unique requirements of each vaccine. As an example, data loggers that are combined with a thermocouple sensor are capable of recording measurements of temperatures as cold as -199C. When used with a thermal buffer, the data for the Pfizer vaccine can be accurately measured. Conversely, the extreme temperatures required for storage of the Moderna vaccine can be monitored with a thermistor temperature sensor combined with a thermal buffer. In other words, different cold chain conditions are required just for the two different COVID-19 vaccines but data loggers can do this and keep track of conditions that would be far too harsh for any other measuring device or manual temperature readings taken by a human. To give you an idea of the temperature ranges required for the safe storage of the COVID-19 vaccines, the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70C according to the manufacturer. The Moderna vaccine does not require conditions as cold as that but must be stored at -20C.
How They Are Used In The Transportation of Vaccines
As you can imagine, transporting the COVID-19 vaccines across the country is going to be a massive operation. It is also a big enough job that won’t be completed properly without the assistance of data loggers. The immense logistics alone are staggering. However, temperatures in this part of the cold chain process must remain constant to prevent spoilage and loss of inventory. As stated above, different vaccines require different conditions and the COVID-19 vaccines are two examples of where conditions for transportation of one will have to be much colder than the other. Data loggers can handle even the harshest of conditions ensuring that temperatures are watched closely and properly maintained as the vaccines are transported to their destinations.
Understanding how data loggers will play a big role in 2021 is easy when you factor in the primary use of these devices and the need for them as the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to the public. With the strict requirements of the cold chain that follows the vaccines from place of manufacture to transportation and storage to their final destination, it is vitally important that these sensitive assets are kept at content temperatures throughout the entire process. Data loggers make that seemingly impossible task a lot easier to handle and accomplish. Probably the best thing about it is that data loggers do this job quietly, efficiently, and without complaint. We could learn a lot about compliance just by observing how these instruments operate and why they are so important in 2021. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of why perishable products are typically stored in harsh conditions until they are used.
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