Home >News >World >US starts mass air shipment of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine

United Airlines on Friday began operating charter flights to move shipments of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for quick distribution if the shots are approved by US Food and Drug Administration.

The mass inoculation programme is expected to begin in late December, according to a report.

The initial flights are the first step in a global supply chain, which is being assembled to tackle the logistical challenge of distributing Covid-19 vaccines. Pfizer has been laying the groundwork to move quickly if it gets approval from the FDA and other regulators world-wide reports the Wall Street Journal.

United had sought permission to carry more dry ice than is typically allowed on flights to maintain the extremely low temperatures required to prevent Pfizer’s vaccine from spoiling.

The airline has reportedly been granted special permission by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to fly with increased quantities of dry ice, to keep the vaccine cold.

Pfizer's vaccination must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. Pfizer has designed suitcase-size boxes, packed with dry ice to keep its vaccine doses cold, avoiding the larger, temperature-controlling containers used in transportation, giving it more flexibility to ship the vaccines faster.

Pfizer’s distribution plan also includes refrigerated storage sites at the drugmaker’s final-assembly centers in Kalamazoo, Mich., and Puurs, Belgium, and expanding storage capacity at distribution sites in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., and in Karlsruhe, Germany, in addition to dozens of cargo flights and hundreds of truck trips each day, the report added.

United plans to fly chartered cargo flights between Brussels International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport to support distribution of the vaccine, as per a 24 November letter from the Federal Aviation Administration viewed by WSJ.

The FAA said in a statement Friday that it was supporting the "first mass air shipment of a vaccine," and that it is working with airlines to safely transport Covid-19 vaccines.

As per latest updates, the United States is planning to distribute 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in the first week after it is cleared for emergency use, which is likely next month.

A committee of the Food and Drug Administration meets on 10 December to decide whether to green light the medicine, with the US confronted by soaring numbers of deaths and new cases.

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