Richmond dry ice manufacturer sees increased demand as COVID-19 vaccine awaits FDA approval

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As hospitals and healthcare facilities prepare for potential shipments of a COVID-19 vaccine, the need for dry ice is surging.

The Pfizer vaccine, which has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, must be kept in the extreme cold at about 94 degrees below zero.

In Richmond, Roberts Oxygen, an industrial and medical gas supplier, produces dry ice.

“Dry ice, in a simplified form, is compressed carbon dioxide,” said Store Manager Joshua Kennard.

The demand for the cooling agent is skyrocketing as the U.S. awaits the approval of Pfizer’s vaccine.

Branch Manager Mark Weaver told 8News that, since Pfizer announced its vaccine was looking to be very effective a few weeks ago, healthcare facilities have started putting in orders for ice.

“We’ve received calls from multiple types of businesses, all in the medical field, being hospitals, being people that might be handling it,” Weaver said.

Dry ice is crucial because the Pfizer vaccine must be stored in extreme cold at about 94 degrees below zero.

“The ice is 109 degrees below zero, so that ice is what’s going to be able to allow them to store the product, ship the product,” he explained.

However, Weaver said they are facing some challenges as the vaccine awaits FDA approval. Hospitals and healthcare facilities are left guessing how much dry ice they might need.

“We don’t know, are they only going to need 50 pounds of ice? Or are they going to need 500 pounds of ice? Or are they going to need 5,000 pounds of ice?” said Weaver.

He said Roberts Oxygen is prepared for whatever is to come.

“Production side of it, I think we’re setting very well. We’re at a great at a great position to produce the product, to have the availability,” Weaver told 8News, adding that Roberts Oxygen has already made some dry ice deliveries.


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