Our work with medical and pharmaceutical teams since the outbreak has seen Speedy Freight heavily involved in moving PPE; face masks, and protective equipment to hospitals and medical hubs nationwide. Our teams have also played a role in moving testing kits – for both Drive-Thru testing centres, at-home test kits and hospitals, to name a few. Though our teams are still hard at work delivering protective equipment and testing kits.
Speedy Freight are now investigating how we can support the vaccine roll out.
Distributing the COVID-19 vaccine
Distributing the COVID-19 vaccine is a complex job – as, first and foremost, there are three separate vaccine types, with three different storage needs! So, let’s take a look at the three vaccine types and how they require carefully-calibrated vehicles.
Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine This vaccination, studied and created by researchers at Oxford University, claims to have prevented 70% of those tested developing Covid symptoms with a strong immune response in older people. It also details that, if the dose is increased, protection could be up to 90%. The Oxford University vaccine rollout began on the 4th January, 2021, with the first of 100 million doses currently ordered.
Pfizer vaccine The BioNTech, Fosun Pharma & Pfizer vaccine (commonly simply termed the ‘Pfizer’ vaccine) claims to have prevented 90% of those tested from developing Covid symptoms. The first of these was received in the UK on the 8th December, 2020 – and the UK has ordered 40 million further doses.
Moderna vaccine This claims to have prevented 94.5% of people tested from developing Covid symptoms. The most recent to reach the UK’s shores, the Moderna vaccine was approved by UK officials on the 8th January 2021 – with a preliminary order of 5 million doses.
Considerations in distributing the vaccine
The development and ordering of these vaccinations is an incredible and long-awaited step in the fight against COVID-19 – but of course, careful thought is required as to their distribution. Distribution requirements and methods will differ depending on which vaccine is to be moved at any one time – requiring flexibility, agility and, of course, a ready and waiting specialised vehicle capable of transporting the vaccine in the carefully-calibrated conditions it requires. Storage requirements, as we have mentioned, are hugely variant across the vaccine types.
The Pfizer vaccine, for instance, must be stored at a temperature of around -70C. It needs a ‘deep-freeze delivery chain’, whereby the vaccine is transported in a special box packed in dry ice and installed with GPS trackers, enabling a transparent end-to-end supply chain.
The Moderna vaccine will also need to be kept at below zero, needing storage of around -20C, with the same transparent delivery process.
A slightly lesser challenge arises in the transportation of the Oxford vaccine, which in this instance is the easiest vaccine to distribute. This is because the Oxford vaccine doesn’t need to be stored at these very cold temperatures – but it does require the transparent end-to-end supply chain solution, at 2C to 8C.
The Right Plan
With all this in mind, it’s up to Speedy Freight to engage with government and specialist businesses – so we can produce a robust plan to support the roll out of the delivery of hundreds of thousands of doses of a vaccine.
Capacity and Availability
Another task for Speedy Freight’s team is to establish what the size of the courier network needs to look like, in terms of vehicle types and storage for each vaccine. There is also a challenge on storage and vehicle availability- ensuring suitable vehicles are available and that the volume of them is sufficient to carry the volume of the vaccines.
Facilities / Infrastructure
It’s vital that there are enough cold chain storage facilities across the supply chain which is essential to the distribution of temperature sensitive vaccines.
Due to the nature of the vaccine and cold chain solution, there is an additional layer of complexity regarding ensuring staff are fully trained on equipment, handling and process for handling vaccines and shipments.
Vaccines are highly valuable, particularly in light of the current pandemic; therefore, transportation of the vaccines will require a robust security protocol which ensures shipments remain secure from tampering and theft.
Of course, there is still much work to be done before the remainder of the vaccines are ready for distribution. Here at Speedy Freight, we are used to operating in a fast-paced environment, as well as providing same day and next day courier services alongside scheduled courier services for medical and pharmaceutical industries. At Speedy Freight, we understand that when moving any pharmaceutical product, our priority is to make sure that the product is in a safe, secure and controlled environment throughout its journey, so that it is ready for the patient.