United Airlines Holdings Inc. on Friday reportedly started operating charter flights to prepare Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine candidate for dissemination once the immunization is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Plans in Place
United would fly the chartered airplanes from Brussels International Airport to Chicago O'Hare International Airport as part of the "first mass air shipment of a vaccine."
Reports of the securing the charter flights arrive as Pfizer has begun to lay the foundation to hastily transport the vaccine once the FDA and other regulators approve.
The company Pfizer has broadened storage capacity at distinct distribution sites, reported FOX 5.
Numerous companies are coordinating forces to take on the challenge of vaccine dissemination. Pfizer has been occupied in putting motions in place for its product distribution.
In the travel industry, it is reportedly interesting that it is not merely about transporting people from Point A to Point B but also creating a transportation network that allows people to visit places that are distinct from where they live. The travel sector's mission -- particularly its aviation industry -- also has a large role in the dissemination of goods across the world, reported The Points Guy.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the shipments. It requires the vaccine candidate to be stockpiled in dry ice.
According to the FAA, "As a result of the historic pace of vaccine development through Operation Warp Speed and careful logistics planning, the FAA today is supporting the first mass air shipment of a vaccine," reported Business Insider.
The agency also stated the FAA is working along with air carriers, manufacturers, and airport authorities to proffer guidance on implementing existing regulatory measures for safely transferring large amounts of dry ice air cargo. Because of the complexity of the fast-tracked vaccine, it should be kept at below-freezing temperatures. This means special accommodations must be made for its storage and transport.
The statement added, "The FAA established the 'FAA COVID-19 Vaccine Air Transport Team' in October to ensure safe, expeditious, and efficient transportation of vaccines. Several vaccines need continued cold temperatures during transport, which, in some circumstances, require dry ice, a hazardous material," reported The Hill.
The vaccine candidate should be stockpiled at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
The specific chartered routes being flown were not specifically disclosed, and it was not made known if they were domestic the United States or international flights.
There are refrigerated storage sites at Pfizer's final-assembly centers in Michigan, Kalamazoo, and Puurs, Belgium. Pfizer has extended storage capacity at designated distribution sites in Wisc., Pleasant Prairie, and Karlsruhe, Germany. The vaccine maker plans to utilize suitcase-size frozen storage in cargo planes and trucks in the global dissemination of its candidate.
A spokesman for United Airlines remarked United Cargo established a COVID Readiness Task Team in summer to help affirm that it has the right products, people, partnerships, and services in place to leverage a vaccine distribution effort worldwide.