A Big Vaccine Challenge: Moving Millions Of Vials In Constant Deep-Freeze
The medical industry’s dash to produce the world’s first coronavirus vaccines in just a few months is heightening the urgency for the workhorses of global trade to be ready for the historic charge to defeat the disease.
Only 28% of companies involved in supply-chain logistics feel well prepared to handle Covid-19 vaccines and 19% characterized their readiness as very unprepared, according to a survey released Wednesday that showed a wide swath between optimists and pessimists. The poll, conducted in mid-September by the International Air Cargo Association and Pharma.Aero, is part of an effort to coordinate widespread delivery of the immunizations.
Just over half of 181 respondents already have the vehicles, containers and the connections needed to move hundreds of millions of vials in a constant deep-freeze. Almost a quarter said they’re still trying to procure such equipment, the survey of airlines, freight forwarders, airport operators and ground handlers showed.
The preparedness of those responsible for moving the medicine from manufacturing sites to health clinics worldwide is paramount because the doses, once in transit, must stay ultra-cold as they traverse a world economy where supply chains are already at capacity.
The industry is also trying to avoid bidding wars, shortages and every-country-for-itself attitudes that sparked a stampede for personal protective equipment in the initial months of the pandemic.
“This is the greatest challenge that the logistics industry is facing today or maybe ever,” said Emir Pineda, manager of aviation trade and logistics at Miami International Airport and a board member of the association, known as Tiaca. “The supply chain is made up of many links and if one of those links breaks, then we’re going to have an issue.”
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