SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster lauded a Summerville plant that manufactures the ultra-cold freezers used to protect the COVID-19 vaccine after touring the facility Tuesday.
Praising the innovation he witnessed at Horizon Scientific minutes after completing the tour, he said the innovation shows “what we’re doing in South Carolina is for the future.”
“We have a broad array of manufacturing and industrial, scientific things happening, so this is why I like to call South Carolina ‘Brain Power USA,” he said. “The skill and technology that is reflected in the tour we just saw making these critical machines is a great thing for South Carolina.”
The Summerville plant makes vaccine refrigerators and freezers and recently expanded their line to include the ultra-cold freezers needed to store the COVID-19 vaccine, which must be stored at temperatures 94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.
“For the ULT, ultra-low temperature freezer that you see behind me, we have taken more orders in the past month than we have in two years, so it’s a massive volume that we’ve seen,” Horizon Scientific President Laura Steiner said.
The Pfizer vaccine was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday and is now being distributed to hospitals with the capability of handling it. But the freezers aren’t just being shipped to places like MUSC and DHEC but to facilities around the country. Steiner says they knew when the pandemic started the small south Carolina company would need to expand.
“When the US really started getting hit, that’s when we started planning,” she said. “So we planned with our supply chain. We’ve hired, almost doubled our employee base in the past few months.”
Despite vaccine preparations, COVID-19 cases continue spike around the Holiday season. However, McMaster says there are no plans to increase restrictions.
“We don’t want to shut down businesses. We don’t want to interrupt lives,” McMaster said. “We don’t want all the unintended consequences that come from the kind of closures that we have seen in some other places.”
McMaster said health care workers and those in nursing homes and their caregivers are among the priority for the initial doses of the vaccine, but he told reporters he plans to getting the vaccine when it becomes available.
“I’m not way up on the essential list, I’m down at the bottom somewhere,” he joked. “But yes, I certainly will, as soon as it’s available.”
The company says they have been in operation in Summerville for over 25 years, and employ over 130 South Carolinians in various roles from Engineering, Manufacturing, Technical Service, Sales and Marketing and Supply Chain and Logistics.