Local automation and control industry electronic products manufacturer Omniflex is providing Data2Desktop technology to monitor and detect slight internal temperature deviation in Covid-19 vaccine storage facilities.
This comes on the back of South Africa’s Medical Research Council’s efforts to immunise the population; local regulatory authorities require each storage facility to be monitored to prevent temperature fluctuation that could compromise the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines.
In partnership with the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), five facilities, in KwaZulu-Natal, are playing an integral role in South Africa’s vaccine rollout.
It is essential for the vaccines to be stored in freezers at –20 °C as part of the preparation process, and then to be stored in fridges at between 2 °C and 8 °C prior to their being administered.
A slight variation in temperature and humidity can compromise the vaccines.
Omniflex international sales and marketing manager Ian Louden explains that Omiflex was commissioned by the partnership to provide its Data2Desktop technology, which uses sensors for continuous data recording in environments where controlled conditions are imperative.
Previously, during the antiretroviral drug trials for HIV/Aids, which were held at the same facilities where the Covid-19 vaccines are currently being kept, the monitoring of temperatures in storage facilities and freezers was carried out manually.
Plug-in sensors have been placed inside the fridges and freezers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal for continuous data recording using the Data2Desktop technology. The sensors, which form part of a network, are connected to the cloud and send out an SMS or email alert when abnormal temperature variation is detected.
“Since manually recorded data can reflect only the conditions at the time of the reading and cannot immediately identify problems that arise between recording intervals, these protocols were deemed impractical,” says Louden.
With the South African government’s goal to vaccinate 70% of its 58.5-million population, in order to achieve herd immunity as soon as possible, extra precaution needs to be taken to ensure none of the vaccines are spoilt. The Data2Desktop system operates 24/7, 365 days a year and detects an issue instantaneously. Alerts or alarms can be triggered automatically notifying users of out-of-limit conditions.
“Data2Desktop is industrial to the core, designed to be located in a plant in harsh environments with the ability for interface with industrial sensors, instrumentation and plant controllers presenting to management an aggregated view of data collected as well as the ability to analyse individual data points,” explains Louden.
Data2Desktop comprises a hosted Web server environment to which users log in. Many Data2Desktop-enabled products, deployed wherever necessary in harsh environments, can deliver data periodically to the cloud database. Users can browse their data or be automatically emailed reports tailored to suit their requirements, he says.
Further than vaccine monitoring, applications that Data2desktop has been successful in include cold chain monitoring, water and sanitation, radiation surveillance, corrosion monitoring, environmental emissions monitoring, mining utilities management, and utilities management reporting, for example, on water, air, gas, electricity and sewage, Louden concludes.