- Chartered United Airlines flights from Brussels to Chicago carry Pfizer’s Cvid-19 vaccine, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- The flights are one leg of a chain that will stretch from Chicago to distribution centers around the United States.
- The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -103 degrees Fahrenheit, so flights have special FAA approval to carry 15,000 pounds of dry ice.
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While drugmaker Pfizer is seeking regulatory approval for its COVID-19 vaccine, shipments have already begun making their way to distribution centers through the United Airlines charter, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved shipments that require the vaccine applicant to be packed in dry ice, CNN reports.
“As a result of the historic pace of vaccine development through Operation Warp Speed and careful logistics planning, the FAA today supports the first mass airborne vaccine,”
Charter flights, which began on Friday, were between Brussels and Chicago, the WSJ reported. They are one leg of a chain that will stretch from Chicago to distribution centers around the United States.
Pfizer, along with German partner BioNTech, announced in early November that its vaccine was more than 90% effective in a clinical trial. But this is just one of several developed in a global quarrel to end the coronavirus pandemic.
Another vaccine from Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca was later found to be 70% effective, although AstraZeneca admitted a dosage error during the trials. The Moderna vaccine has been found to be 94.5% effective in testing, the company said this week.
Now, even before the US Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies issue approvals, supply chains are being set up to deliver every vaccine to communities around the world. The Pfizer vaccine applicant has its own delivery challenges, in part because it must be stored at a very low temperature, around -94 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry ice is usually restricted to flights, but United has received approval from the FAA to carry about £ 15,000 of it for each flight, according to a WSJ report.
In the UK, meanwhile, some NHS hospital staff have been told to expect vaccine doses to be distributed as early as 7 December. Frontline workers, including hospital staff, are expected to be among the first to receive doses after government approval.
Last Monday, the Drug and Health Agency confirmed that it was working on data from a study by Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines. The agency did not publish a schedule for approval, but said it “aims to make a decision as soon as possible,” the statement said.
“Our job now is to make a rigorous assessment of this data and the evidence presented about the safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccine,” said Jun Raine, executive director of MHRA.
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