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Biden administration looks to directly ship vaccines to pharmacies

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The Biden Administration announced it will look to directly ship vaccines to pharmacies and is expected to begin next week. The key to shipping the doses safely is having access to ultra cold freezers - Yahoo Finance spoke to Laura Steiner, President of Horizon Scientific, about manufacturing these freezers.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: Administration today announcing direct vaccine shipments to pharmacies. It's expected to start next week. But our next guest is the president of one of the companies that's helping to store Pfizer's vaccine in those ultra cold freezers that we've been talking about. We want to bring in Laura Steiner. She's the president of Horizon Scientific. And Laura, your company plays a key role when we talk about vaccine distribution. I guess, first, just tell us about these units that you make and the demand that you've seen for your freezers.

LAURA STEINER: Sure. So Horizon Scientific, we manufacture and distribute medical and scientific grade refrigerators and freezers. And it's not just for the Pfizer vaccine. So the Pfizer vaccine requires a minus 70 Celsius freezer, but we also manufacture freezers for the Moderna vaccine at minus 20 Celsius and the pending vaccines, the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines that would be stored at plus 5 Celsius.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Really curious because we're going to start the national rollout of vaccine via CVS and the different pharmacies, Walgreens. And those are predominantly your clients. So the demand you've had is, what, been 10x over the past year?

LAURA STEINER: It's been a massive increase, a significant increase in demand. And it's across all of our product categories, so not just those ULT freezers, those minus 80, minus 70 freezers, but also minus 20 freezers for anyone preparing to store the Moderna vaccine for long-term, but also those 5C refrigerators as well for the short term storage of Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines.

SEANA SMITH: Laura, it's a tough time to have to ramp up your production that significantly. I mean, a lot of companies are just trying to meet what they were doing before the pandemic. How have you been able to do it?

LAURA STEINER: So as soon as the Warp Speed project was announced, we immediately started planning. So that was last spring. And we immediately started planning our infrastructure improvements and inventory, a spike in our supply chain, and also an investment in our personnel, too, so that we could plan.

And we're in an excellent spot right now. We have seen that spike as of a few months ago. And we're continuing to support our customers. We communicate with our customers daily to make sure that they're on track and they're getting the equipment they need in the time that they need it.

ADAM SHAPIRO: A lot of us, not just your customers, are counting on the ability to deliver these freezers. But I'm curious, long term, once we're past the national inoculations and vaccinations, what happens to your business? Because the demand won't be as great.

LAURA STEINER: That's a great question. So we do see that the demand right now is at-- it's at an all-time high. But we don't know how long that will last. So we know that the Biden administration would like to have everybody vaccinated by summer or fall. But it could take longer. And there could be boosters associated as well with the vaccines that would require additional vaccine storage capacity. So we don't see that this would be an immediate decline in the business. It could be a spike that we see for some time to come.

SEANA SMITH: Laura, going off of that, I guess that begs the question, then, is the US at this point-- it doesn't like it, but is the US meeting demand for cold storage? Or what does that timeline look like?

LAURA STEINER: Are we meeting the demand? So absolutely.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, more on a nationwide scale, so outside of your company specifically, just in terms of what's available and what's needed today and what's going to be needed in a month from now.

LAURA STEINER: Sure, so I would say yes, we are meeting that demand. And we do-- our products are shipped nationally and internationally. And we've been hitting that demand and meeting the demand, working with our customers daily. So it is an increase in that demand, but we've increased our capacity here to meet that now and going into the future. So we're in good shape. And we did start planning early. And because of that, we're in a good position right now to support that demand.

SEANA SMITH: Laura Steiner, president of Horizon Scientific, thanks so much for taking the time to join us.