By Charlie Forbes

CBS Detroit – On Tuesday, Ford Motor Company said it had purchased a dozen ultra-cold specialty freezers to keep a supply of COVID-19 doses when they become available. In an article by The Detroit News, the freezers are part of a plan to offer COVID-19 vaccines to their workforce.

Kelli Felker, Global Manufacturing and Labor Communications manager for Ford said to The Detroit News, “The health and safety of our workforce is our top priority,” adding, “So we have ordered a dozen freezers to make a COVID-19 vaccine available to our employees on a voluntary basis when it becomes available. Beyond that, the situation is really fluid.”

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An employee works on the assembly line for the Ford 2018 and 2019 F-150 truck at the Ford Motor Company’s Rouge Complex on September 27, 2018 in Dearborn, Michigan. – Ford Motor Company’s Rouge complex is the only one in American history to manufacture vehicles including ships, tractors and cars non-stop for 100 years. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

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The freezers are part of a plan for when pharmaceutical companies have a vaccine ready to distribute. The UAW has also called for the automakers to help in the distribution of potential vaccines. Currently, Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. have announced they have two-dose mRNA-based vaccines developed that they claim are up to 95% effective against COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine requires an ultra-cold -112°F storage temperature, which would seem to explain Ford’s recent purchase. The Moderna vaccine can be stored at -4°F or below, making it within the realm of a normal freezer and can handle being kept for a few hours at room temperature. Pfizer has requested that it be allowed to distribute its vaccine for emergency use by the FDA, which would allow the vaccine to be available in limited quantities by next month. Moderna has had its vaccine tested in clinical trials at Henry Ford Health System.

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The Detroit News also reports GM is planning on plans to provide vaccinations to its employees but hasn’t gone as far as Ford has in procuring specialty freezers according to GM spokesman Pat Morrissey. Fiat Chrysler and the UAW had no comment. Automakers implemented practices in May to protect their workers and get their assembly moving again, which have delayed production on some vehicles. The companies and unions say the safety-practices against COVID-19 they have adopted are working, preventing the spread within their manufacturing plants.

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Charlie Forbes