IMPACT

This Bill Gates-Backed Super-Thermos Saves Lives With Cold Vaccines

UNITED STATES - JULY 09:  Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp., left, shares a laugh with Nathan Myhrvold, founder and chi
UNITED STATES - JULY 09: Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp., left, shares a laugh with Nathan Myhrvold, founder and chief executive officer of Intellectual Ventures and former chief technology officer of Microsoft Corp., as they leave a session during the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Thursday, July 9, 2009. The conference runs until Saturday, July 11. (Photo by Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Every year, over 1 million children die from diseases that are preventable with vaccines. The problem isn’t just that vaccines aren’t available. Even when they are, breakdowns in the refrigerated vaccine supply chain (aka the "cold chain")--which often occur in areas where power is unreliable--make them unusable.

Global Good, a collaboration between Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures, is pilot-testing a possible solution: the Passive Vaccine Storage Device, dubbed the "super-thermos" by Gates. The device, which has been in the works since 2008 (when Gates first challenged Intellectual Ventures to tackle the problem), keeps vaccines between zero and eight degrees Celsius for 30 to 60 days, depending on outside temperatures and humidity. That’s a big deal in many parts of the developing world, where health officials often see cold storage devices that can keep vaccines fresh for five days at the absolute maximum.

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