The Federal Aviation Administration said it supported the “first large-scale airlift” of the Covid-19 vaccine on Friday as pharmaceutical companies and airlines have prepared extensive distribution networks.
People familiar with the matter said that United Airlines delivered Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine from Brussels to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Prior to obtaining approval, pharmaceutical companies, airlines and other parts of the supply chain will be ready for distribution once the regulatory agency approves. The distribution network will include cold storage to store vaccines.
The US Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the Covid-19 vaccine. Pfizer cooperated with BioNTech to develop a vaccine, and Moderna said that recent trials have shown that their vaccines are more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-1
Pfizer did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Spokesperson Kim Bencker has previously stated that the company will only ship until it has been approved by the FDA for emergency use. Pfizer submitted an emergency clearance application on November 20, and it is expected that the FDA will discuss the application publicly at the next meeting of the agency’s vaccine and related biological product advisory committee on December 10. Moderna said it plans to submit its application on Monday.
If regulators approve any vaccine without delay, some Americans may get their first dose within a few weeks.
The storage temperature of Pfizer’s vaccine is 94 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, Moderna said its vaccines are stable for up to 30 days at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature of a standard household or medical refrigerator). It can be stored for up to six months at minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
People familiar with the matter said that the Wall Street Journal reported for the first time that United Airlines flights require special approval from federal regulators to transport more dry ice than normal. The storage temperature of the vaccine is below freezing point.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established a special team last month to solve the problem of “safe, fast and efficient delivery of vaccines.”
The FAA said in a statement: “Several vaccines require continuous low temperatures during transportation. In some cases, dry ice is a hazardous substance.” “The FAA is working with manufacturers, air carriers and airports. The authorities cooperate to provide guidance for the implementation of current regulatory requirements to safely transport large amounts of dry ice in air cargo.”
Pfizer’s vaccine will initially be very limited. It was previously reported that by the end of this year, the company’s two-dose treatment program could immunize 50 million doses, enough to immunize 25 million of the country’s approximately 331 million people. The company plans to ship frozen vials of vaccine from its factories in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Pools, Belgium to vaccination points.
Other airlines are also preparing to ship vaccines.
Spokeswoman Stacy Day said in a statement that U.S. Air Cargo started a test flight from Miami to South America with its pharmaceutical partners last week to “stress test the thermal packaging and packaging that we have established to deliver vaccines.” Operation process”.
One of the future challenges is the limited air cargo capacity due to the pandemic. Because airlines have cancelled so many flights, there is less belly space available for cargo transportation. However, United Airlines and other airlines have begun operating cargo-only flights to help make up for lost passenger revenue.
Airlines have played a vital role in delivering potentially life-saving vaccines as a means of seeking other federal assistance, and passenger traffic is only a small part of last year’s levels.
“As the country looks forward and takes on the logistical challenges of distributing vaccines, it is critical to ensure that there are enough certified employees and aircraft in service to ensure that there are sufficient capabilities to complete this task,” American Airlines said in November The letter to the leaders of Congress on the 18th said that it represents the largest American airline.
Some federal agencies have already begun sending vaccination plans to staff. A person familiar with these plans told CNBC on November 20 that the five agencies have begun telling employees that they can receive Pfizer or Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine in just eight weeks.