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Oklahoma’s Noble Research Institute donates critical cold storage units for COVID-19 vaccine


By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter –

OKLAHOMA CITY —Noble Research Institute has coordinated with the Oklahoma State Department of Health to donate 11 ultra-cold industrial freezers that will be used to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine across the state of Oklahoma.

According to the website, NRI strives to be the preeminent agricultural research institute, a trusted source of transformational knowledge and products, education, and technology to advance agriculture and land stewardship

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in safely distributing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is that it must be shipped and stored in ultra-cold temperatures of about -94 degrees Fahrenheit, which is around four times colder than a standard home freezer.

This donation fills a critical need, as no County Health Department had sufficient cold storage prior to the donation. The 11 freezers will be placed in strategic locations across the state and are key to ensuring the vaccine can be distributed to all Oklahomans, particularly rural communities, in the long term.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Noble Research Institute for this generous donation,” said Keith Reed, Deputy Commissioner with OSDH. “This ensures we can move forward with the phased vaccine distribution plan quickly and effectively and allow Oklahomans to receive the vaccine at their local healthcare providers, rather than travelling during the pandemic.

“These storage units are a critical piece in providing all Oklahomans, whether in a rural or urban area, with equal access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” Reed added.

The Ardmore-based Noble Research Institute agricultural research organization was uniquely positioned to help fill the need for cold storage.

Agricultural research being performed at Noble Research Institute often requires the use of ultra-cold freezers that can cost over $15,000 each. 

“It’s been amazing to watch how Oklahoma organizations have come together to help provide solutions to the distribution of this vaccine,” said Steve Rhines, president and CEO of Noble Research Institute. “We are pleased that these freezers will — in some small way — support communities across the state of Oklahoma.”

The 11 freezers have been distributed to the state’s health department districts and are being put to use as shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrive in the state.

Lloyd Noble established the Noble Research Institute, originally named The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, in 1945 to help revitalize agriculture after the Dust Bowl. Today, the Noble Research Institute is the largest nonprofit agricultural research organization in the U.S.

The Noble Research Institute’s mission is to deliver solutions to great agricultural challenges. The Institute was recognized as one of the 2020 Top Workplaces in Oklahoma among large-sized companies.

For more information regarding the Noble Research Institute, visit noble.org.

This story first appeared online on Jan. 12, 2021.

The Noble Research Institute has partnered with the Oklahoma State Department of Health to donate 11 ultra-cold industrial freezers that will be used to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine across the state.. Photo provided.