Wednesday, January 20

Getting the Covid-19 vaccines safely, a logistical challenge

How many vaccines will be needed?

Between 12 and 15 billion doses are expected to be produced worldwide, according to the International Federation of the Pharmaceutical Industry (IFPMA).

Current models predict that there will not be enough vaccines to cover the world’s population before 2023 or 2024“, estimates the American Duke University which monitors the emerging market of some 200 vaccine candidates.

Will all vaccines be transported the same?

The laboratories are preparing two types of vaccines: some – like that of Pfizer and BioNTech – will require very low storage temperatures, down to -80 ° C, while others will be stored at more conventional temperatures of +2 at + 8 ° C.

The first type, which is particularly difficult to transport, “will concern up to 30% of the doses that will be distributed worldwide“, estimates Mathieu Friedberg, general manager of logistics company Ceva (CMA-CGM group).

For the 70% of the second type, “it is always specific logistics. It’s still pharma and therefore it’s sensitive, but it’s less technical than -80 ° C“he said.

Are they going to take the plane?

For Mathieu Friedberg, half of the vaccines will take the road between the place of production – Pfizer and Moderna should, for example, subcontract part of their manufacture in France – and storage places then vaccination centers.

The other half will require logistics combining air and land resources.

Everything will therefore depend on the distances and the urgency of transporting the products.

How will air transport be organized?

There will need some kind of airlift“Says Glyn Hughes, head of cargo at the International Air Transport Association (Iata). A single dose to transport for each inhabitant of the planet would fill the equivalent of 8,000 wide-body cargo, he said.

To give an idea of ​​the volumes, Air France’s 99 long-haul passenger planes can each carry more than 400,000 doses in their hold, and its two Boeing 777 freighter more than a million doses.

Passenger flights with hold capacity must be increased“, pleads the director general of Iata, Alexandre de Juniac, for whom”borders must be open to allow distribution“.

The current air freight capacity is insufficient to meet demand. The collapse of international air traffic has limited supply, as 60% of air cargo is carried in the holds of passenger planes.

How are the carriers organized?

At all levels, we have created “task forces“, working groups at the level of the States as well as of the profession and companies.

Bolloré Logistics works like this “on all segments“, explains its commercial director Olivier Boccara: state of the market for packaging, review of the resources available for transport – in particular a census of land carriers capable of meeting the challenge -, taking options with airlines and maritime with forecasts on flows, etc.

Particularity of the situation: it is the laboratories themselves which take care of the accreditation of transporters.

In order, an institution or a health authority in a country works with a lab, the lab certifies its logistics chain, and it is therefore up to it to do the work with its subcontractors so that this logistics chain respects the ‘set of criteria“, summarizes Mathieu Friedberg.

Will everyone be ready?

To this day, there are still many unknowns“, explains the logistics company Geodis (SNCF group): the quantities to be transported, at what temperatures, according to what schedules, with what distribution schemes, etc.

But logistics professionals interviewed by AFP are unanimous: they will be ready.

Most of the time, the logistics chains of the pharmaceutical industry go unnoticed, points out Mathieu Friedberg, who notes that transport at -80 ° C already exists for organ transfers. “What changes is the magnitude, over a relatively short time“.

With 150,000 refrigerated trucks, “France has one of the best cold chains in the world“, according to the Cold Supply Chain.”The situation is getting more complicated“for products to be stored at -20 ° and -80 ° C but the challenge is”not impossible“, according to its president Jean-Eudes Tesson.

The guidelines are not yet completely clear for transport. It is therefore extremely difficult to tell clients if refrigerated containers are the most appropriate way to distribute the vaccine.“, testifies Mike van Berkel, salesman at the Dutch manufacturer of manufacturer of VRR Aero aviation containers.





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