Skip to content
Home » The essential role of refrigeration in the combat against COVID-19 

The essential role of refrigeration in the combat against COVID-19 

Statement by the International Institute of Refrigeration calling governments to consider refrigeration-related services as ‘essential services’ in the context of the current health crisis due to COVID-19. 

The International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) is the only independent intergovernmental science and technology-based organisation which promotes knowledge of all refrigeration fields, ranging from extremely low temperature applications to air conditioning via the food cold chain. 

With 59 member countries and its network of several hundred renowned experts on five continents, the IIR is empowered to speak on behalf of the refrigeration community. 

The IIR (International Institute of Refrigeration) calls on national governments to consider the diverse services of refrigeration and air conditioning as ‘essential services’ in the context of the fight against COVID-19 in countless countries around the world. 

Over 15 million people are employed worldwide in the refrigeration sector – including air conditioning – which consumes about 20% of the overall electricity used worldwide. 

Refrigeration is vital for reducing post-harvest losses and in the preservation of food products. 

Airconditioning also plays a key role in the economic and social development of warmer countries and its use is expanding dramatically – especially in the world’s emerging economies – with rising global temperatures. 

In the healthcare sector, refrigeration preserves pharmaceutical products and medicines, especially vaccines. New treatments, such as cryosurgery or cryotherapy, were developed thanks to ultra-low temperature technologies. 

Refrigeration is employed in many industrial processes such as chemicals, plastics, and natural gas liquefaction LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) 

Deprived of refrigeration, data centres – and the internet – would collapse in minutes. 

In the current context, it is important to emphasise the essential role of refrigeration technologies in the cryogenic separation of the gases which make up air and the production of pure oxygen, of medical grade.  

The various stakeholders in the refrigeration sector – producers, installers, engineers, and technicians responsible for equipment servicing and maintenance – all play a leading role in insuring the ongoing operation of refrigeration equipment. This is essential in hospitals, nursing homes for the elderly who are more vulnerable to COVID-19, as well as food retail and industries. 

The IIR supports the measures governments are taking to guarantee the safety and health of their citizens. Through this statement, the IIR draws attention to the essential role of refrigeration stakeholders. It calls on governments to allow the ongoing operation of essential services provided by refrigeration stakeholders.