Leaders from freight and shipping companies told Bloomberg the industry isn’t ready to handle shipping a COVID-19 vaccine to billions of people around the world.
The challenges of shipping a vaccine to so many people include shrinking capacity on container ships and cargo aircraft and not knowing when a vaccine will be ready.
Julian Sutch, head of Emirates SkyCargo’s pharmaceutical division, told Bloomberg that a Boeing 777 freighter plane can carry about 1 million doses of a vaccine, so a double-dose vaccine distributed to half the world’s population would require about 8,000 cargo planes.
The vaccine also is likely to need refrigeration, making it harder to transport.
Shippers have struggled for years to reduce the amount of paperwork and update old technology that can slow the process of transporting fragile vials of vaccines, Bloomberg reported.
“Let’s all be honest here: Vaccine supply chains are exponentially more complex than PPE supply chain,” Neel Jones Shah, global head of air carrier relationships at San Francisco-based freight company Flexport, told Bloomberg. “You can’t ruin PPE by leaving it on the tarmac for a couple of days. You will destroy vaccines.”
There’s also the question of how vaccines requiring delicate and expensive transportation would reach remote, impoverished areas.
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