Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is well known for its efforts to help eradicate diseases from the developing world. But achieving this goal has in the past encountered a significant problem: eradicating diseases often requires immunization, which relies on keeping vials of vaccine cold until they can be administered. The vials have to be kept at exactly the right temperature — too hot or too cold, and the vaccine could lose its effectiveness. That is a significant problem for places that do not have consistent access to electricity.
The foundation may have found a solution: the Sure Chill Company in Wales has announced receipt of a $1.4 million grant from the Gates Foundation to develop a vaccine cooler that will help advance efforts to eliminate preventable diseases worldwide.
The grant will enable the company to take the cooler from the proof-of-concept stage — which had been supported by a previous $100,000 grant from the foundation — to field trials over the next year in eastern and western Africa. The firm's technology harnesses a unique property of water to create a constantly chilled environment within the unit, enabling the cooler to operate for thirty-five days without power.
If the trials are successful, the development of these "super" coolers will represent a giant step in the eradication of diseases in the developing world.