B.C. dry ice company scores cool contract for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

When Paul Thomson went into business manufacturing dry ice, he never imagined his company would be at the forefront of a national response to contain a pandemic.

But a lot can change in a year.

“We’re very happy that we get to be a part of the solution,” Thompson said.

Read more: Canada approves Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, will start administering ‘within days’

Thomson and his business partner initially envisioned the company supplying the ultra-cold material to help transport frozen foods, for commercial cleaning applications and to supply the film industry.

Click to play video 'B.C. company gets dry ice contract to help move vaccine' 2:21 B.C. company gets dry ice contract to help move vaccine

B.C. company gets dry ice contract to help move vaccine

Canada approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, and on Thursday, officials said the first shipments should arrive by next Monday.

Distributing it will come with major logistical hurdles because the vaccine must be stored at -70 C to remain effective.

That’s where Thompson’s company Fraser Valley Dry Ice comes in.

Read more: B.C. COVID-19 vaccine rollout: When will you be able to get the vaccine?

On Wednesday, they inked a one-year contract with the federal government to provide dry ice to transport the newly-approved Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“Basically as soon as we had the machine and we had the people commissioned to come in and train us, it was only several days later that COVID kind of hit Canada pretty hard. We didn’t know how it was going to affect our business,” he said.

“We knew it was used in the medical field to ship specimens and that (but) no one can really anticipate this.”

Click to play video 'B.C.’s top doctor delivers hopeful news on COVID-19 vaccination' 0:52 B.C.’s top doctor delivers hopeful news on COVID-19 vaccination

B.C.’s top doctor delivers hopeful news on COVID-19 vaccination

The company will now turn its specialized equipment, which uses compression to transform carbon dioxide into dry ice, to produce containers of frozen pellets for the vaccine.

Thomson said his facility is capable of producing more than 9,000 kilograms of the material a day, more than five times what he said the government required.

Read more: Coronavirus vaccine will arrive in Canada on Monday, government says

Several other companies across Canada have also inked deals with Ottawa, he said.

Thomson is still waiting for details on where, when and how much dry ice will be needed for the first shipment of the vaccine, but he said the company is ready to go.

“I assume we will start producing ice for the vaccine pretty quick here,” he said.

“I know they are trying to move it as quick as they can, so we’re standing by and we’re ready to help when we get the green light.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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