The race continues as pharmaceutical companies rush to develop an effective vaccine for COVID-19, with nine drug development companies pledging this month not to release candidates until clinical trials back up their safety and efficiency. While testing and development continues, the challenges surrounding it’s delivery to the market are another hurdle that must be overcome.
Moving raw materials inbound to production facilities do not pose a concern for the time being. The real challenge lies in shipping the finished product to warehouses and distribution centers along with the last-mile distribution to facilities. The International Airline Federation (IATA) put into perspective the capacity needed to transport these products last week, stating that over 8,000 747 jumbo freighters would be needed to move over 800,000 tons of vaccines worldwide.
Maintaining product temperature is also a large area of concern. While the range for vaccines typically falls between 35 degrees Fahrenheit and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, companies working on a COVID-19 vaccine are stating possible storage conditions of -4 degrees Fahrenheit, all the way down to -94 degrees Fahrenheit, which would require specialized equipment to sustain such low temperatures, only allowed to defrost for 6 hours before usage.
For the COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed across the world, aviation would need to utilize dry ice to maintain the negative temperature, adding a great deal of weight to the shipment and further tightening capacity. (2)
When temperatures go out of range during the distribution process, it can result in a loss of potency and the vaccine becomes ineffective. If not taken care of promptly, it can ultimately result in widespread recalls, health concerns, thousands/millions of dollars worth in losses, as well as a hit to the brand name and reputation. In fact, a 2019 survey demonstrated that nearly “25% of vaccines are degraded by time they arrive at their destination,” resulting in an annual loss of nearly $34.1 billion for the cold chain. (1)
Not only is frozen warehouse capacity another issue, but monitoring and maintaining temperature stability to the end user (hospitals, pharmacies, etc). If dry ice is used again, the product runs the risk of quality concerns.
Preparing for the safe distribution of these vaccines is essential. As John Smith, Memorial Professor of Operations Management at University of Massachusetts Amherst explains, “With billions of vaccines needed to address the pandemic, a high spoilage rate would result in an immense financial loss and a huge delay in vaccinations that could result in deaths and a longer global shutdown.” (1)
Since 1988, Road Scholar Transport has been solving risk-adverse, investment grade customers’ transportation needs throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. We do business with a multitude of pharmaceutical companies. As a recognized asset-based carrier on the east coast, we offer less-than-truckload (LTL), truckload (TL), dry van, frozen and reefer, heated, teams, expedited, and same-day service options. These various features allow us to provide services to all facets of the pharmaceutical industry, from raw materials to finished goods inventory.
Road Scholar Transport strongly focuses on the temperature-controlled business and the security of your manufactured goods to deliver a safe product to your end user, the way it left.
Learn more by visiting our pharmaceutical transport page and get a shipping quote today.