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What does a Covid-19 vaccine mean for the Transport and Logistics sector?

Light at the end of the tunnel? If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news recently, you’ll have heard about the encouraging results coming from numerous coronavirus vaccine trials around the world. In case you’ve missed it, here’s a quick summary.1

Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine - trials are showing this vaccine stops 70% of people developing Covid symptoms with a strong immune response in older people. There’s also intriguing data that suggests perfecting the dose could increase protection up to 90%. The UK has ordered 100 million doses.

Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine – The first big breakthrough in the CV19 vaccine race. This vaccine has showed to stop more than 90% of people developing Covid symptoms. And the UK should get 10 million doses by the end of 2020, with another 30 million ordered.

Moderna vaccine – using the same approach as the Pfizer vaccine, US firm Modernas’ vaccine protects 94.5% of people with the UK expecting five million doses by the spring.

Interested in how clinical trials work in a pandemic?
Check out our recent article
here.

With successful trials reported, people are starting to ask, "When will I have a Covid-19 vaccine?”, “How can I source a vaccine for my business?” It’s time to consider the crucial role transport and logistics plays in supplying the huge demand for vaccines.

How are Covid-19 vaccines being delivered in the UK?

Distribution requirements and methods may differ depending on the type of vaccine. If we look at the Pfizer vaccine, this must be stored at a temperature of around -70C. It would need a ‘deep-freeze delivery chain’ whereby the vaccine is transported in a special box packed in dry ice and installed with GPS trackers.1 The Guardian have produced a fantastic summary graphic, find it here.

It’s the needs of this ‘deep-freeze delivery chain’ where businesses involved may need to adapt. However, other coronavirus vaccines in development will not need to be stored at ultra-cool temperatures, including the one from the US firm Moderna, which can be kept at -20C, much like the temperatures of home freezers. Similarly the Oxford vaccine, may be one of the easiest vaccines to distribute, as it doesn’t need to be stored at very cold temperatures.1

Key challenges to address for Covid-19 vaccine distribution

Governments are scrambling to prepare for the rollout of the vaccine. Delivering millions, even billions, of doses of a vaccine that must be transported and stored in a deep-frozen state to the entire world efficiently involves hugely complex logistical challenges across the supply chain. New International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidance has identified.2

  1. Capacity & Connectivity: The global route network has been reduced dramatically from Covid-19. Re-establishing air connectivity is crucial to ensure adequate capacity is available for vaccine distribution.

  2. Facilities and infrastructure: Ultra-cold chain facilities across the supply chain are essential to the shipping, storage and distribution of temperature-sensitive vaccines. The availability of temperature-controlled storage facilities is vital. But what are the contingencies when such facilities are not available? Additionally, some types of refrigerants are classified as dangerous goods, and volumes are regulated. This adds an additional layer of complexity on top of the equipment required and staff training for handling the vaccine/shipments.

  3. Security: Vaccines are highly valuable commodities, this will be heightened by the sheer demand for these much-awaited vaccines. Ensuring large-volume shipments remain secure from tampering and theft requires early planning.

Did you know the estimated value from freight crime thefts was £52.7 million in the first eight months of 2020? Our new transport and logistics eBook discusses this important topic and how businesses in the sector can combat this danger. Get your free Transport and Logistics eBook.

There’s still lots to be done before the vaccines are ready for distribution. But with the pace at which these vaccines have been developed, it pays to be prepared. The country is counting on businesses in this sector to continue to support them. For the latest resources to help your business during these difficult times visit our Coronavirus Resource Centre.

 

Sources

1 bbc.co.uk/health 
caasint.com/new-iata-guidance-prepares-for-global-vaccine-distribution

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