Clarkson defrosted one of its Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers over the weekend to get it ready to head over to Canton-Potsdam Hospital to await the first arrivals of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. The vaccines must be stored at the ultra-cold temperature of -70 degrees Celsius, or about -94 Fahrenheit.
Clarkson’s ULT freezer comes from Biology Professor Susan Bailey’s Experimental Evolution and Bioinformatics Lab. This freezer normally holds bacteria and DNA samples from her evolution experiments.
“These experiments explore how bacteria evolve in response to different types of environments, including looking at the evolution of antibiotic resistance. We preserve and freeze the bacteria periodically over the course of an evolution experiment to keep a kind of "fossil record" of their different stages of evolution. When we freeze them at ultra-low temperatures, they are preserved in a way such that we can thaw and reanimate them at a later time for further testing - which is really useful!” Bailey said.
Last week, St. Lawrence Health System installed their first ULT freezer for vaccine storage. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures.
The FDA is set to discuss the Pfizer vaccine’s emergency authorization on Dec. 10 and Moderna’s vaccine on Dec. 16. If emergency approval is granted, the vaccine distribution may start as early as this month. The Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines require two shots, Pfizer’s vaccine will be given 21 days apart, and the Moderna vaccine will be given 28 days apart.
“This is what community is all about,” said Clarkson President Tony Collins when sharing the University’s role in the response to the pandemic. “As a national research university with a strategic research focus in next generation medicine and healthcare, we have the expertise and resources that St. Lawrence Health System need now. Supporting our community in meaningful ways like this is part of our value system.”
“We are incredibly fortunate to have continued support from our local universities and I am personally grateful. Our communities only benefit from the collaboration taking place between Clarkson’s diverse spectrum of innovators and our vast team of healthcare and infectious disease specialists,” said David B. Acker, St. Lawrence Health System President and CEO.
When COVID-19 began to impact communities around the globe, faculty and staff at Clarkson University applied their vast expertise in areas like airborne particle properties, sustainable battery life, mechanical and electrical engineering in HVAC systems, and engineering design to collaborate on several projects to help St. Lawrence Health System’s medical team provide enhanced, safe, COVID-19 critical care. These innovations have translated to supporting other communities as well.