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Keeping the Future COVID-19 Vaccine Cool

Nations handle the interaction between their government and the business/industry sector differently. Earlier in life I was firmly of the belief that governments should not interfere with business/industry as, despite the best of intentions, they typically make things worse and only add on bureaucracy without providing any net value in the end.

As years have gone by, I have shifted that view considerably – and I think (and hope!) I more clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of both governments and business/industry. Especially when it comes to providing a net benefit for its citizens.

One such place where I see the strengths of both government and business/industry is in current efforts to proactively develop an infrastructure for storing future COVID-19 vaccines at cold temperatures so they can be more rapidly transported to the people who need it.

An influential book from an author I hold in high regard helped shape my view of the interaction between the U.S. government and business/industry. The author was historian Stephen Ambrose and the book was Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Railway That United America. I happened to see Ambrose give a talk in my home city Colorado Springs on September 9, 2001 – yes, two days before that September 11. Americans may recognize his excellent book (which I also read) which was turned into an HBO mini-series Band of Brothers – a World War II historical series.

The book showed the imperfect but ultimately successful partnership between the U.S. government and business/industry to build the first railroad that crossed the entire United States in 1869. The railroad opened an explosion of opportunity and commerce for the United States which ultimately benefitted all Americans in one way or another.

Today one can see this interaction in the U.S government doing its best (imperfectly as usual) to move the business/industry sector into developing and deploying a vaccine for COVID-19. Today I read a recent article on how logistics specialist United Parcel Service (UPS) is building two deep freeze (-80 C / -112 F) "freezer farms" – one in the USA and one in Europe, as well as freezer capacity in South America. The purpose is to be ready to store massive amounts of vaccine to more rapidly and reliably deliver it to the world. According to the article, the U.S. Government involvement has been working with UPS through its Operation Warp Speed team.

The COVID-19 world we now all live in will leave its mark for many decades into the future. Modern technology and infrastructure logistics offer the promise of minimizing the impact of COVID-19. Modern governments offer the promise of collaboration with business/industry to ensure this happens as smoothly and equitably as possible.

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Tuesday, 28 March 2023
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