Transporting a possible vaccine for the COVID-19 virus will be a huge challenge, for which the logistics world is not yet ready, some industry leaders say Bloomberg.
Pharmaceutical companies and researchers worldwide are working hard on possible vaccines for the coronavirus. A number of companies hope to have a limited amount of a first vaccine on the market before the end of the year.
But a fair distribution of that vaccine around the world is going to be very difficult, transport companies and researchers say Bloomberg. They say that a coordinated global strategy is needed.
Logistics professor Jan Fransoo at Tilburg University confirms to NU.nl that shipping the vaccine will be a major challenge, especially to poorer countries. Air transport prices have roughly tripled due to the corona crisis, as passenger numbers have fallen.
Much of the goods on airplanes are shipped in the cargo hold of passenger flights. And the shortage of this is driving up the price. “Those prices can sometimes become a problem,” says Fransoo.
“Flights to Europe, Asia and the United States are recovering again, but this is far from being the case in Latin America and Africa.”
“We are not proactively planning to distribute a vaccine. Carriers and manufacturers are not sufficiently connected,” said Atlas Air Worldwide’s Michael Steen. Bloomberg.
Refrigerated air transport is a major problem
But the biggest challenge, according to Fransoo, is in the refrigerated shipping of vaccines. Many of the vaccines in development must remain refrigerated from producer to destination. A small deviation can spoil the whole load. Some variants even have to be kept at a temperature of -80 degrees.
“Refrigerated air transport is generally a major problem because goods often remain at the airport, including in Europe,” says Fransoo. “And this is even more the case in less developed areas.”
Fransoo says there are ways to keep the vaccines cold with special battery or AC powered coolers. But both are expensive and electricity is not always sufficiently available in developing countries.
The professor therefore sees a role for the United Nations and the World Food Program, which have extensive experience in logistics transport to developing countries.
Against Bloomberg the companies say that there is still enough time for carriers, pharmaceuticals and governments to draw up a strategy, but that this must be done quickly.