The First Shipment of COVID Vaccines Just Arrived in Chicago
The Federal Aviation Administration announced that the "first mass air shipment" of COVID 19 had been completed, according to CNBC.
Pharmaceutical companies and airlines are preparing for the distribution phase once the vaccine receives emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. The first shipment of vaccines was carried by a United Airlines plane. The COVID-19 vaccines were transported from Brussels to Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Friday.
Pfizer spokeswoman Kim Bencker had previously stated that the company wouldn't start shipping the vaccine without regulatory approval from the FDA. Pfizer submitted the vaccine for emergency authorization on November 20. The FDA is expected to publicly discuss it during the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meeting next week on December 10.
Americans could start getting vaccinated before the new year if regulators approve it. The distribution and storage of Pfizer's vaccine won't be easy. It requires a storage temperature of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Rival Moderna's vaccine can be stored from 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, which is normal for a standard refrigerator, for up to 30 days. Lower temperatures can expand that range.
Last month, the FAA created a special team to tackle “safe, expeditious, and efficient transportation of vaccines.”
“Several vaccines need continued cold temperatures during transport, which, in some circumstances, require dry ice, a hazardous material,” the FAA said. “The FAA is working with manufacturers, air carriers, and airport authorities to provide guidance on implementing current regulatory requirements for safely transporting large quantities of dry ice in air cargo.”
Pfizer expected to be able to vaccinate only 25 million people by the end of the year, less than 10 percent of the population in the US. The company has plans to ship frozen vials of the vaccine from its Kalamazoo, Michigan, Puurs, and Belgium distribution centers.