Editor’s Note: The ENN Newsroom is researching social media messages and memes that are sharing information
about current events. This project examines the factual basis for a meme making the rounds
around the internet related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meme is a variation on the popular “expanding brain” meme. The images show various sizes of brains and attempts to portray brain activity increases through light patterns in a panel of pictures while comparing the levels of brain activity to images or words in an opposing column.
In the current meme, the level of progression of brain activity begins with the logo for the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, paired with the smallest brain level of brain activity.
The next panel combines the World Health Organization, or WHO, next to a picture of increasing brain activity. This is followed by the logo for the organization Doctors Without Borders positioned next to another picture of increased brain activity.
The final picture depicting the apex of brain activity is paired with the logo for Dippin’ Dots, a company that makes and distributes ice cream that is flash frozen and stored in extremely cold temperatures in the form of small beads.
Why is the meme creator linking medical organizations and an ice cream company?
The answer lies with the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines must be stored at extremely cold temperatures. The CDC’s website indicates vaccines are shipped in thermal containers temperatures ranging from -112°F to -76°F. The cold is vital because warmer temperatures cause important components of the vaccine to degrade.
Due to the extremely low temperatures, it is difficult to transport and store the vaccine because most freezers only go to 0°F.
Enter Dippin’ Dots, a company that regularly ships products and stores them around the country at those temperatures. The company accomplishes this with a combination of dry ice and specially made, and hard to get, freezers.
Vaccine distributors and point of care locations, like pharmacies and hospitals, have reached out to the company about renting equipment to help transport and store the COVID-19 vaccines.