Stirling Ultracold

Stirling Ultracold in The Plains. Photo by Ben Peters

A company based in The Plains has garnered national attention for its ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers, which have become useful in storing a potential COVID-19 vaccine that is likely to require subzero temperatures to remain potent.

Stirling Ultracold, a company located at 6000 Poston Rd. that employees 130 people mostly from southeast Ohio, developed a freezer with the largest storage capacity relative to similar devices that could prove valuable to companies that research, manufacture, transport and store a potential vaccine, according to a news release from Ohio University.

Many potential COVID-19 vaccines, including a leading candidate manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech that’s shown to be 90 percent effective, must be kept at temperatures as low as minus 80-degrees Celsius from the time of bottling to when they’re injected into a person’s arm, according to a report in The New York Times that makes mention of Stirling Ultracold’s freezer that can reportedly store 48,000 vials.

“It appears that the widespread delivery of many COVID-19 vaccine candidates will require volumes of freezer units at multiple ultra-low temperatures and even more for smaller units where we have a unique position in the industry,” Neill Lane, Stirling Ultracold’s chief strategy officer, said in the news release.

“It is great news for the company, our employees and the wider community. Our employees and products can help solve one of the many complicated challenges in getting the COVID-19 virus under control.”

The United Parcel Service (UPS), according to The Times’ report, is constructing a “freezer farm” in Louisville, Kentucky where it’s working to store millions of doses of potential vaccines in Stirling Ultracold’s freezers.

TechGROWTH Ohio, a program of OU’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, was the lead investor in Stirling Ultracold’s first round of financing, according to the university news release.

“As an early and ongoing investor in Stirling Ultracold, we are proud that this company’s innovation will contribute to mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic not just in southeastern Ohio, but globally,” OU President Duane Nellis said in a statement. “They are an outstanding example of how TechGROWTH launches and grows companies to expand regional economic development.”

Athens County home to another company that has developed technology that’s proven useful amid the pandemic. Quidel Corporation, a San Diego-based business with a Research and Development site located at 2005 E. State St., manufactures a COVID-19 antigen test, which processes nasal swabs in a $1,200 toaster-sized reader called The Sofia 2 SARS Antigen FIAThe test, which has come under fire by some for its lack of accuracy relative to PCR alternatives, can return results within 15 minutes.

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