Natural gas provides materials to fight COVID-19

This pandemic, with its many challenges and tragedies, has also prompted us to be grateful for much of civil society, key industries and the frontline workers that for far too long have gone underappreciated. Pennsylvania’s historic strengths in energy, manufacturing and healthcare should position us to lead the nation’s economic recovery, provided policy allows our industries to innovate and grow. As job creators ask for this type of partnership from the public sector, we in the business community stand ready to work alongside government to ensure the efficient deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine. Such coordination is critical to putting Pennsylvanians safely back to work and truly beginning our economic recovery.

One of the unsung heroes in fighting the pandemic has been natural gas. The hydrocarbons in clean natural gas produced right here in Pennsylvania have made massive contributions in the fight against COVID-19, providing the feedstock for the chemicals and plastics used to produce the gowns, masks, face shields and gloves that are needed to safely respond to COVID and care for patients.

Hydrocarbon byproducts are also a building block for the vaccines. By harnessing polyethylene glycol, a petroleum-based compound, the vaccine can cross the cell membrane and into the cells themselves to deliver the messenger RNA that is necessary to thwart the virus.

Keeping the vaccines at their most effective means refrigeration — and the materials needed to create these controlled environments are composed of oil and natural gas-produced plastics such as polycarbonate, polypropylene and polystyrene.

Natural gas has quietly been providing the medical field the materials it needs to fight COVID-19. Now it is going to help us put the pandemic in our rearview mirror. Although this virus has slowed us down, Pennsylvania’s energy and medical industries are giving the world the momentum it needs to endure.

Author: Kevin Sunday
Publication: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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