On Friday, November 25, United Airlines began operating charter flights that carry doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. This transfer of the vaccines began so the injections could be positioned where they need to be when/if (and let’s face it – chances are good that it’s more of a “when” than an “if”) they’re approved for use by FDA.
Pfizer’s vaccine was developed in conjunction with the German biotechnology company BioNTech. They submitted a request to the FDA on November 20th for the vaccination to receive Emergency Use Authorization.
In preparation for FDA’s approval to start offering the vaccines, doses of the injections need to be transferred from Germany to the rest of the world. To get them to the U.S., the airline is flying chartered planes between Brussels International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport as part of the “first mass air shipment of a vaccine,” supported by the FAA, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
A United spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that the vaccine rollout was being handled by United Cargo, which established a COVID Readiness Task Team earlier this year “to help ensure we have the right people, products, services, and partnerships in place to support a vaccine distribution effort on a global scale.”
As per the WSJ, United received permission to carry three times the amount of dry ice that’s typically allowed on flights to maintain the required low temperature (-70°C or -94°F, give or take 10°C) of the vaccine.
The U.S. distribution plan is for the vaccines to be transported from Chicago to existing and additional refrigerated storage sites in the midwest. Once approved, vaccines will be shipped out of Kalamazoo, MI and Pleasant Prairie, WI, by ground and air. It’s expected they’ll be able to get the vaccines to anywhere within the U.S. within 1-2 days.
Called BNT162b2, Pfizer’s vaccine had an efficacy rate of 95% in late-stage clinical trials.
Other airlines and cargo carriers such as American Airlines, FedEx, DHL and UPS are also preparing for their respective roles in distributing vaccines around the U.S. as they become approved and available.
This is a big step, y’all! What do you think? Once the vaccine is approved, do you think you’ll get one when it becomes available to you?
Feature Photo: United Airlines
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary