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Kimchi refrigerator maker develops ultra-low temperature freezer for vaccines

Image of Medibox, a newly developed ultra-low temperature freezer for COVID-19 vaccines. (Winia Dimchae)
Image of Medibox, a newly developed ultra-low temperature freezer for COVID-19 vaccines. (Winia Dimchae)


While logistics and biopharma companies across the world strive to secure “cold chain” channels to safely store and transport COVID-19 vaccines, a South Korean home appliance brand specializing in kimchi fridges is set to roll out an ultra-low temperature freezer for such use.

Winia Dimchae, known for its kimchi fridge brand Dimchae, has successfully developed an ultra-low temperature freezer, jointly with its wire telecommunications apparatus affiliate Dayou Plus, officials said.

The tentative product is currently undergoing certification process and is slated to hit the market within the first quarter.

Gearing up for the imminent launch and sale, Winia Dimchae has filed to the Korean Intellectual Property Office a trademark for the brand “Medibox,” along with three related technology patents. Dayou Plus, the actual manufacturer of the product, is working to obtain the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety’s manufacturing approval for medical devices.

Generally, refrigerators adopt an indirect refrigerant system that circulates cooled air within the device -- a way that may lead to temperature changes and the dryness of food. Kimchi fridges, however, adopt a direct refrigerant system by using cooling coils in order to preserve the texture and taste of kimchi at its best fermented stage.

This diverse approach to food temperature maintenance is seen to have inspired the home appliance maker amid the vaccination scheme.

The Korean government said Thursday that it will start public vaccination next month, starting with the medical staff and vulnerable senior citizens.

So far, Seoul has secured vaccines for 56 million people -- 10 million from AstraZeneca, 10 million from Pfizer, 20 million from Moderna, 6 million from Janssen, and 10 million from the WHO-led COVAX scheme.

Winia’s Medibox freezer -- 90 liters in capacity and 65 kilograms in weight – can store up to 18,000 vaccine units and offers a temperature range as low as minus 80 degrees Celsius.

“The given temperature is fit for any of the vaccines that are to be distributed here and the user may set the ideal temperature without difficulty,” the company said.

Also, due to its relatively small size and inverter compressor, the product may serve as portable cold chain storage means, keeping at a set low temperature for a couple of hours on a battery pack, officials added.

“Such portability means that vaccines may easily be delivered to regional health centers and small-sized hospitals, contributing to (the government’s) aspired timeline to achieve herd immunity,” it said.

“Starting with Medibox, we shall continue to look out for new opportunities in the medical device market.”

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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