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How prepared is Africa for a COVID-19 vaccine?

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Over 1.4 million confirmed cases and counting in Africa and each day, we pray that this will be the last of it. Beyond the numbers and alarming statistics that plague our screens is an economy struggling to stay afloat and citizens whose lives have been drastically impacted – both socioeconomically and healthwise – by the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to Bill Gates, the knock-on effects of the outbreak has halted and set back public health efforts by 25 years, exposing millions to the risk of deadly disease and poverty most especially in developing countries. 

With an estimated population of 1.3 billion people, 56.4% of which live in rural communities with reduced access to cold chain facilities, Africa seems ill equipped to handle the widespread distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

This is due to the lack of adequate electricity and proper refrigeration facilities to store essential vaccines and thermolabile medications. In Nigeria alone, the most populous country in Africa, it is estimated that 6 out of every 10 hospital wards are not equipped with active cold chain equipment and 58% of immunization sites are without electricity.

This situation calls for a sustainable solution and Koolboks seeks to provide this through its Kareboks vaccine solar refrigerators. Designed to generate continuous cooling for up to 88 hours in the recommended 2-8•C vaccine temperature even in the absence of power or sunlight, Kareboks is the ideal solution to ensure vaccine potency, increase distribution capacity and combat the effects of inadequate electricity in primary healthcare centers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Kareboks vaccine refrigerator

It is designed with an advanced temperature monitoring and alarm system that enables users to remotely access, monitor and control the vaccine fridge from anywhere in the world, even in rural areas without GSM network coverage.

As the costs of solar refrigerators can be prohibitive, especially for healthcare centers in rural communities, Koolboks has adopted a Cooling as a Service business model, in partnership with the Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE) to provide users access to the Kareboks cooling service for a small monthly fee.

Expanding the use of freeze alarms and rigorous temperature monitoring is critical to ensuring that everyone has access to potent, life saving vaccines

Dr. Robin Nandy, principal advisor and chief of immunization at UNICEF

Through the manufacture and strategic deployment of the Kareboks vaccine solar refrigerators in health care centers across Africa, we can ensure that we are better prepared to provide equitable distribution for when a COVID-19 vaccine is produced.

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