COVID vaccine logistics to start as sprint, turn into marathon

Date: Friday, November 20, 2020
Source: Freight Waves

About 40 million doses of two leading COVID-19 vaccines could be available for nationwide distribution by the end of December, with similar amounts metered out each month afterward in a carefully synchronized manner to ensure all jurisdictions have a predictable supply, Operation Warp Speed officials said at a press conference Wednesday.

Vaccine candidates from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Moderna (NASDQ: MRNA) are expected to soon be authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the companies this week said they were effective 95% of the time at preventing coronavirus symptoms.

The federal task force coordinating the nationwide immunization campaign has been working closely with jurisdictions to learn where they want vaccines to be shipped. Distribution is scheduled to begin within 24 hours of FDA authorization.

“The governors and the states will figure out the plan and we are ready to execute as we’ve been working on for six months, doing numerous tabletop exercises and now extending it into actual rehearsals of how to move the product from fill finish sites to distribution centers down to actual administration sites,” Army Gen. Gus F. Perna, chief operations officer of Operation Warp Speed (OWS), said.

“After the initial push, we will begin a weekly cadence of delivery of vaccine … to ensure that we rapidly expand the availability to the entire country simultaneously,” he said. A routine flow is important “so that jurisdictions can plan for it and develop execution of the administration in a routine method so that the population is well informed and they know when and where to get the vaccine.”

Pfizer and Moderna have already started to stockpile vaccine doses because the U.S. government took the financial risk to invest upfront so companies could begin manufacturing and clinical trials before the drugs were determined to be effective. Under an agreement with the government, Pfizer will deliver 100 million doses with an option for an additional 500 million doses. OWS has provided about $2 billion in funding and operational support for development, manufacturing and delivery for similar quantities of the Moderna vaccine.

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