Weslaco dry ice producer preparing to ramp up production for COVID-19 vaccine

Local News

WESLACO, Texas (KVEO) — One of the break through COVID-19 vaccines must be stored at extremely cold temperatures.  

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has been proven as 95% effective with no major side effects. Just today, the company requested emergency use authorization from the FDA.   

Once it can become distributed, there is one major challenge: it must be stored at negative 70 degrees Celsius, which can be accomplished through dry ice.  

“It’’s expensive and also price of CO2, which is main component, it varies,” Cold Front Ice Manager Ramon Torres said. “It also goes up as demand, so it goes up and down”  

Weslaco’s cold front ice supplies dry ice to local laboratories.  

Torres says they have had issues keeping up with demand before, but not because problems with the facility.  

“Sometimes CO2 is not widely available, so sometimes that’s the main problem: getting the CO2 here in the valley,” he said.  

Cold Front’s dry ice production is on hold until February due to construction, but by then Torres says they can ramp up, if the demand is there. 

Another place to find dry ice is Brownsville’s Shrimp Outlet.  

“I could have as much as I could fill this up,” Shrimp Outlet Manager John Kyle Burnell said. “And if I need another box, they could drop off another box as well”  

Their supply arrives every Monday from San Antonio, and Burnell says they sell about 300 pounds a week, namely for food preservation.  

If the demand for dry ice in the region does soon increase before local production resumes, Burnell says he’s confident in his supplier and his shop could store many freezer fulls more to help distribute the vaccine if necessary.   

Additionally, Moderna has applied for emergency authorization for its vaccine, which remains stable at slightly warmer temperatures. 

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