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Ensuring the cold chain logistics of the transportation of the new crown vaccine

time:2021-01-28 pv:971

With the new vaccine began to market, billions of people worldwide vaccination requirements for air freight and logistics enterprises and even aviation manufacturing industry, airports, warehousing and other industries to bring a new challenge: we will how to safely and quickly to transport vaccine to the world, in the acceptable from the production line to the storage and transportation environment into the human body the process as much as possible to reduce losses, while maintaining its medicinal effective, become the focus of attention in the industry.

High thresholds for cold chain transport of vaccines

The pharmaceutical cold chain transportation is known as the cold chain industry pyramid.

Different from the general fresh cold chain, the vaccine cold chain has a higher threshold.

Vaccines need the whole cold chain, and the temperature must be constant between 2℃ and 8℃ during the whole process of storage and transportation, and the temperature should be monitored and recorded regularly.

Only from the perspective of logistics, the vaccine cold chain has very strict requirements for hardware, software, whole-process control, and relevant certification.

The vaccine cold chain requires pharmaceutical logistics companies to have the ability to track location and temperature in real time, high performance packaging, multiple temperature control, multiple transportation modes (from plant to distributor /CDC, from distributor to large and small CDC, and from CDC to vaccination site).

Vaccine circulation generally has two modes :(1) traditional trunk line mode + regional distribution + intra-provincial distribution, with circulation enterprises responsible for intra-provincial distribution.

(2) Direct distribution from vaccine manufacturers to national county and city disease control and vaccination units.

A complete vaccine traceability system should include four "completeness" : full variety (including all vaccines), full coverage (all cold-chain facilities related to vaccines), whole process (all circulation links, from production to pre-vaccination), and all weather.

Through the complete process of traceability and supervision, the cold chain "break" has never happened in any link or in any time period.

"The supply chain for the Covid-19 vaccine will be one of the most complex [pharmaceutical logistics] supply chains ever."

Dai Tinglong, a professor of medical operations management at Johns Hopkins University, previously said.

The pharmaceutical industry itself has a more complex supply chain than other fields. Participants include not only pharmaceutical product manufacturers, raw material suppliers, logistics providers, distributors, medical service providers (such as hospitals and clinics), but also insurance institutions, drug procurement organizations, etc.

In the case of vaccines, the supply chain is particularly complicated because of more stringent requirements for distribution and storage.

The successful development of the new crown vaccine in the realization of mass vaccination at the same time, is bound to face a cold chain transportation and special packaging "big test".

Lack of capacity Air cargo has difficulty meeting vaccine transport needs

Seeing so many "authentic" cold chains and pharmaceutical companies unable to support the vaccine cold chain, many people did not think that social logistics giants have been in this field layout for many years.

Recently, in the face of society to address the concerns of the vaccine cold chain transport, logistics industry giant said its service including vaccine industry supply chain, the pharmaceutical industry production, electricity, distribution, retail, and other fields of the enterprise, providing customers with professional, safe and controllable one-stop pharmaceutical logistics supply chain solutions and services."

Sweden's cold-chain container supplier Envirotainer coo Niklas Adamsson recently in an interview with the media, said the vaccine transportation is nothing new for Envirotainer, company a year to transport 150000 tray of pharmaceutical products, also it is not uncommon in - 70 ℃ transport drugs, "but for medical cold chain transport industry, under this temperature standard transport such a large cargo is unprecedented."

Since last year, the airline industry has been one of the hardest hit by the outbreak, with many carriers laying off workers, suspending operations or closing down, and grounding their fleets, due to the sharp drop in travel demand and border controls.

IATA estimates that if the world were to get just one dose of the new crown vaccine per person, 8,000 freighters would be needed to deliver the vaccine, and even that would not be enough for all the current cargo planes.

The shipping industry, meanwhile, is itching to get its act together.

GregTuthill, vice president of Seacubecontainers, an international multimodal transportation company, said: "Vaccines will be transported by air first, and then by sea replenish or backfill, so there will be a large demand for vaccines transported by sea."

The truth is, no one really knows how many planes will be needed because there are so many variables to determine, such as temperature control, type of packaging, auxiliary dry ice, storage, etc.

Take temperature control as an example. Vaccines are high-value, high-sensitivity and easily affected by temperature products, so transportation also means high risk.

"The urgency, sensitivity, scale and complexity of the delivery of new crown vaccines in a market with severely limited transportation capacity create a number of risks that require careful management.

Most of the attention has been focused on the physical delivery of the vaccine, but there has been a huge effort behind the scenes to manage the data, coordinate and optimize the process."

"Said Jim Monkmeyer, president of North American supply chain transportation for DHL.

Technical Difficulty Vaccine temperature control requirements pose new logistics challenges

Some vaccines are likely to have stricter temperature controls, such as as -80C, to ensure their effectiveness during later transportation and storage. "This poses new challenges to the medical supply chain, which currently delivers vaccines at temperatures of around 2-8C.

Airlines, manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, as well as industry associations and regulators, have all stepped in to develop a standard system for distributing vaccines by air, with the common goal of ensuring that vaccines are delivered to their destinations in a stable transportation environment for safe use of dry ice.

The type of packaging used for vaccines and how much dry ice is needed are also challenges for the logistics industry, aviation logistics experts said.

International hazardous goods regulations strictly limit how much dry ice can be carried on a plane, because when it is released in a confined space such as a plane, dry ice displaces air and can suffocate the crew.

It could also build up enough pressure inside the package to cause an explosion.

According to IATA packaging instructions, boxes containing dry ice must be designed to allow the release of carbon dioxide so that the packaging does not crack under pressure, experts said.

To cold-chain transportation professionals, a lower sublimation rate of dry ice means a larger volume can be carried, so Pfizer developed a package design with a built-in seal to reduce the sublimation rate of dry ice while maintaining a stable internal temperature.

For aircraft manufacturers, of course, they also hope that their products will be widely used in the global air transport known as the "mission of the century", but at the same time, they should make certain judgments and formulate relevant standards based on the characteristics of their products. After all, ensuring safe transportation is the premise of everything.

Aircraft manufacturers are also looking for solutions. Boeing has sent out service letters, multi-user messages, and has held webinars to communicate issues related to shipping dry ice.

The released material includes a data "curve" that reflects how many pounds of dry ice each plane can carry (based on the sublimation rate of dry ice when packed for transport)


In addition, the document covers important aircraft operational information, such as airflow Settings and sign-off in the case of equipment inventory.

The recommended limitations for carrying dry ice on all Boeing aircraft models have been provided to customers through multi-model service letters, multi-user messages, and several full-model fleet team calls within the Boeing communications system.

Airbus also recently revealed that already includes a issued to the operator on the update of "service information letter" (SIL) packet, which covers the airbus airworthiness authorities about the lower cargo compartment (ventilation and ventilation conditions) and the number of transport than usual in the upper cabin of a large number of solid carbon dioxide ice this proposal.

In addition, operators are reminded of health and safety considerations and measures to be taken during loading or flight, especially with regard to ventilation.

Specifically, this information includes guidance on dry ice limits set by the Regulations.

Under normal circumstances, dry ice is widely used by specialist cargo airlines with experience in safely handling cold and sensitive cargo inside aircraft, Airbus said.

However, the sheer volume of vaccines that now need to be transported around the world calls for wider engagement, close contact and guidance on how to safely contribute to this effort, from all sectors of society as well as different operators.

Embraer, the global regional aviation manufacturer, has also recently issued a technical guidance to help its customers properly define the transport characteristics and payload requirements for the transport of CoviD-19 vaccine on commercial aircraft.

As a result of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, operators are considering the possibility of using Embac's aircraft to transport the vaccine.

This document includes technical guidance for EMB120, ERJ145, E-Jets, and E-Jets E2 family of commercial aircraft.

The main aim is to provide appropriate guidance for airlines preparing to transport vaccines around the world.

Currently, there are more than 100 customers operating nearly 2,500 Embraer commercial aircraft in more than 80 locations worldwide.

Initial action logistics enterprises and airlines to start the relevant work

Despite the uncertainties and technical difficulties surrounding the upcoming mass vaccine distribution program, logistics companies and airlines are already starting to work on it.

On December 24, 2020, the Ministry of Transport pointed out at the national transportation work conference that it will spare no effort to ensure the cold chain transportation of Novel Coronavirus vaccine in 2021.

The first batch of Biontech vaccines was delivered to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) on flight EK182 from Brussels to Dubai on December 22 and arrived at Dubai International Airport at 22:15 local time, SkyCargo announced on December 25.

Once the vaccines arrive at Dubai International Airport, containers containing them will be first unloaded from the aircraft and then transported to Emirates Skypharma, Emirates SkyCargo's dedicated pharmaceutical storage base, for customs clearance and distribution, Emirates said.

SkyCargo Freight has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical transport sector and operates a state-of-the-art EUGP-certified pharmaceutical storage and handling facility in Dubai.

A global drug transit scheme has also been established to provide enhanced cold chain protection with ground handlers and airports at major origin and destination locations for drug shipments.

At present, the drug delivery network has covered more than 30 cities worldwide, including Brussels.

FedEx (FDX), the world's largest integrated logistics network, announced on Dec. 19 that it will begin shipping the Moderna vaccine for McKesson.

FedEx says it ships about 500,000 items a month that contain dry ice and is capable of safely handling that volume.

FedEx began shipping BiontechCovid-19 vaccine shipments across the United States in mid-December, and plans to start shipping the vaccine throughout Canada and beyond.

The company says it has temperature-controlled transportation solutions, near-real-time monitoring capabilities and a professional healthcare team to support the express delivery of vaccines and bioscience shipments.

German logistics giant DHL also announced in mid-December that its two business units, DHL Express and DHL Global Freight, would start international distribution of the new vaccine.

Having already delivered the first batch of vaccine to Tel Aviv, Israel, DHL is preparing to distribute the vaccine to more and more regions through its global hub starting later this month.

Over the next two years, DHL says, the entire supply chain will need to work closely together, with as many as 200,000 pallet shipments, about 15m refrigerated container shipments and at least 15,000 flights.

DHL has revealed that has been specially set up more than 9000 professional staff team of experts, through its global network, including pharmaceutical companies, medical device makers, clinical trials and research institutions, wholesalers, distributors, and full value chain of hospitals and health care providers, stakeholders, and with the aid of digital way, connected from clinical trials to the nursing points of each link.

Air France-KLM's Martin Cargo Airlines also announced on 24 December that it was fully prepared to ship the new Crown Covid-19 vaccine.

Martin Cargo Airlines has many years of experience in temperature controlled transport of pharmaceutical products and is an IATA CEIV certified air cargo group.

Martin Cargo is well prepared to deliver the vaccine to the Netherlands, France and many other countries around the world in response to the environmental challenges of storage and transportation of the new crown vaccine, which can be as low as -80 ℃. Martin Cargo completed the shipment of the new crown vaccine successfully more than a month ago.

Martin Cargo, in partnership with ACN and Europe's two major aviation medical hubs, Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris, has set up two teams to ensure that vaccines are ready for delivery at both airports.

On December 21, 2020, a Singapore Airlines 747-400F cargo plane arrived at Changi International Airport carrying a shipment of Biontech vaccines, which also arrived in Asia.

According to Singapore Airlines, the vaccine, which was transported by DHL, was loaded at Brussels Airport in Belgium and arrived in Singapore after a nearly 14-hour non-stop flight. It was then randomly transferred to Xin Xiang's cold-chain facility for storage.

Singapore also hopes that through successful transport and distribution efforts, Changi Airport will become a transshipment hub for vaccines in Asia, a goal that many large air transport companies and hub airports with similar capabilities hope to achieve.

In addition to aviation and logistics companies, Danish shipping giant A.P., which has begun a comprehensive transformation into an integrated logistics provider.

Moller-Maersk also recently announced a huge cold chain logistics partnership, signing a three-year logistics agreement with pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk to provide cold chain logistics services including sea and inland logistics.

In a recent interview with China Times, a senior executive of SF Airlines, a Chinese air cargo company, also said that it was paying close attention to vaccine shipments and had made corresponding preparations.

SF Holding, the parent company of SF Airlines, established a joint venture with American cold-chain logistics company Harvest in 2018, making a large-scale foray into the cold-chain logistics business.

Shenzhen SF Tyson Holdings (Group) Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of SF Express Holdings, recently added several new trademarks of "Shunfeng Medical", including website services, advertising sales, transportation and storage, etc., and the current trademark status is "trademark application", according to the Tianeycheck APP.

(Comprehensive reports from Xinmin Weekly, Finance & Economics, Express Magazine, China Times and other media)