15 million boxes, 15,000 flights – How ten billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine might be distributed across the world

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15 million boxes, 15,000 flights – How ten billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine might be distributed across the world
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  • Logistics leader DHL along with McKinsey & Company has published a white paper on how they believe the vaccine delivery will look like.
  • One of the biggest challenges is that the vaccine needs to be kept in cold temperatures throughout.
  • The paper estimates that it would require 15,000 flights, 15 million cooling boxes, 200,000 pallet shipments to deliver 10 billion doses.
The whole of 2020 around the world has been about one question -- when will the COVID-19 vaccine be available? With the coronavirus pandemic, the world has come to a pause as billions of people stay home and millions have been infected by the virus.

But come December and the possibility of a vaccine hitting the markets could become a reality. Currently, there are several vaccines under development and trial – from Moderna to Pfizer and AstraZeneca and Oxford are all in a race to produce the first proven COVID-19 vaccine.

Even when the vaccine does get ready, there are doubts that remain - how will it reach the masses soon? Logistics leader DHL along with McKinsey & Company has published a white paper on how they believe the vaccine delivery will look like.

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Vaccine to be kept in cold storage at all times

One of the most important aspects of the COVID-19 vaccine delivery is to ensure that it is safe to use right from the manufacturer to the pharmacist. And for the same, the vaccine needs to be kept in cold temperatures throughout. According to the report, the logistics from the manufacturer to the warehouse to the regional distribution capabilities will all be put to test as the temperature requirements for safe and efficacious vaccines will be as low as -80°C or end up falling in the +2–8°C range.

The report recommends the use of liquid tanks, pallet shippers, cooling warehouses and cooling boxes, all as a part of the logistics depending on the time duration and distance the vaccine has to travel.

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A logistics nightmare — if not managed well

With the urgency of the vaccine requirements, logistics will have to be prepared well. The DHL and McKinsey paper estimates that it would require 15,000 flights, 15 million cooling boxes, 200,000 pallet shipments to deliver 10 billion doses.

“We can expect the intermediate transport of the drug substance and intercontinental shipment of the drug product to be manageable given the intact logistics infrastructure available at production sites (predominantly in industrialized regions in Western Europe, North America, and India),” said the report.

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However, the paper also said that large parts of Africa, South America and Asia might not see the vaccine being readily supplied due to unavailability of cold-chain logistics.

SEE ALSO:

COVID-19 vaccine trial: Pfizer expects results by October end

AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine enters Phase-III trial in the US

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