The Trucking Industry’s Role in COVID Vaccine Distribution

Trucking's Role in COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

There will be at least 6 vaccines that will likely meet acceptable effectiveness – we will dive into the first 2 announced.

This November has seen the highest jump in reported COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the U.S. and in states where a major outbreak had not previously appeared.

While wearing masks and increasing social distancing can reduce the spread of COVID, it does not kill the disease, just slows it down to acceptable levels to keep our healthcare at reasonable capacities.

The only way to truly get ahead of the pandemic and back to normal life is scientifically approved vaccines to be distributed across the globe.

Two Vaccines Show High Effective Rates In Human Trials

Vaccine researchers deserve to be praised for finding highly effective vaccines, with no major side effects, in only ten months with the capability to have millions of vaccines available by the end of the year.

Two major super-pharma companies have released human trial results in the past week. Pfizer’s vaccine trial showed an effective rate of 95% with hopes to distribute around 50 million vaccine by the end of the year. Moderna’s vaccine trial showed an effective rate of 94.5% and hopes to distribute around 20 million by the end of the year.

In perspective, the annual flu vaccine hopes to achieve over 60% effective rates as biologists must guess what various flu strains will look like for the next flu season.

To transport and deliver these vaccines, the Pfizer vaccine is required to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius and the Moderna vaccine to be kept at -20 degrees Celsius.

To note, there are 4 other vaccines that will likely meet acceptable effectiveness that will also be easier to produce and distribute.

So, what will the logistics look like for these two vaccines?

Massive Cold-Storage Supply Chain Will Be Tested

Not only does Pfizer and Moderna plan to produce a billion vaccines each to be distributed worldwide, but both vaccines require two doses for proper immunity.

These vaccines also require cold supply chains, or to be refrigerated from production to distribution, to extend the shelf-life of the vaccine.

This means everything must be kept chilled with a massive amount of special equipment, reefer trailers, containers, and more.

According to NBC News, “Pfizer is marshaling a massive new cold-storage supply chain to handle the delicate dance of transporting limited doses of its coronavirus vaccine from manufacturer to any point of use within two days.”

The company says the vaccines will be packed below dry ice inside thermal packaging containers developed by Pfizer, which should maintain the -70 degree Celsius requirement for enough time to transport the vaccine from manufacturer to distribution points through standard pharmaceutical reefer trailers at -30 Celsius.

The packages, containing 1,000 to 5,000 doses, will be shipped by air to major distribution hubs and then delivered by trucks to hospitals, outpatient clinics, community vaccination locations and pharmacies.

However, everyday pharmacies are not able to stockpile large quantities of vaccines that require subzero storage. Though, pharmacies may be able to keep Pfizer’s cooler-size boxes on hand, and other vaccines can be stored at less extreme temperatures.

According to the New York Times, UPS is creating a freezer farm in Louisville, KY where it can store millions of doses of vaccine at subzero temperatures. FedEx already has machines in warehouses that can produce dry ice, and UPS said it was considering adding them.

Gen. Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer for the government’s Operation Warp Speed, which is tasked with distributing the vaccine, said Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that tracking and tracing every dose will require the use of a program called Tiberius that links databases from shipping companies and the government, a capability that didn’t exist two months ago.

What Can We Do Now?

With tens of millions of vaccines going to the most populous states and our healthcare workers first, what can we do now?

The most important thing we can do is to help flatten the curve. We are in the worst period of the pandemic and many are facing “pandemic fatigue”. But we must stay vigilant in wearing our masks, think about what your holiday plans will look like with masks and social distancing, and being kind to those who agree or disagree with each other.

Our healthcare workers are dealing with 36-hour shifts, collapsing with emotional distress, and not feeling the hero status they rightly deserve like in the beginning of the pandemic.

Let us be thankful and share the love and kindness we celebrate during the holidays with those on the frontlines.

Are you concerned for your staff and/or drivers and their COVID-19 exposure?

We offer on-site pre-shift screenings, screening questionnaires and temperature screenings for your distribution site, terminal, construction site or office.

We also offer antibody testing, which provides insight into employee exposure by determining whether or not they have developed COVID-19 antibodies.

If you think your business may be a candidate for prescreening temperature checks or antibody testing, you can contact us now or learn more about our COVID-19 services.

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