UNLV Helps Nevada's COVID-19 Effort

Jan. 28, 2021


As Nevada starts rolling out the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, UNLV is stepping up in helping the state store doses of the vaccine.

A few months ago, a researcher in the Science and Engineering Building ordered an Ultra Low Temperature freezer, commonly referred to as a -80, from vendor UNLV works with called VWR to store samples used in research experiments. However, when the delivery arrived it turned out VWR accidently sent TWO of the in-demand freezers instead of one. Incidentally, this is the same freezer used to store the Pfizer vaccine that must be kept between - -60°C and -80°C.

Kris Davidson, Research Infrastructure Manager, said knowing that this freezer could help in storing the Pfizer vaccine in Nevada, leaders in the Division of Research asked themselves if there was a way they could pay for the 2nd unit and keep it.  

“A lot of people really came together at the last minute and helped this happen,” says Davidson. “It would have cost the company a lot of money to ship the freezer back, so Eric Knight raised the idea since -80s are in high demand right now, and Dave Hatchett, Associate Vice President for Research, started making calls across campus to see what we could do.”

In the end it was a win/win situation. Hatchett was able to secure CARES Act funds and VWR gave UNLV a discount on the unit since it didn’t have to pay to ship it back. Unfortunately, it turned out the freezer had a faulty compressor that kept it from getting cold enough and had to be serviced.

“Our close relationship with VWR allowed the repair to occur relatively quickly given the current high demand for parts and service for these units,” said Davidson.  

The freezer is currently on its way back to Las Vegas, and once it’s back on campus it will be used to support the vaccination effort.

In addition to Dave Hatchett and Kris Davidson, several other people at UNLV played a role in quickly getting the freezer to the right spot and placing it into service, including:

Eric Knight, Division of Research

Jason Hargis and John Tomola, RMS

Andrew Erickson, Delivery Services

Dale Dempsey, Facilities Management

Thank you all for your dedication to this project!