UPS delivers first Covid-19 vaccines to distribution sites in the US

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United Parcel Service (UPS) has successfully transported the first Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines to various distribution sites in the US. The logistics company is one of two that will be instrumental in delivering the vaccine throughout the country, the other is FedEx Express. In an interview to CNN, Wesley Wheeler, president of Global Healthcare, UPS, said, "We're very, very proud to be part of this. We're actually honored to be part of this and it's a big emotional day for us. But we're still working, we're still on the job."

Earlier on December 10, FedEx Express and UPS appeared in front of a United States Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety for a hearing on the logistics of transporting a Covid-19 vaccine. Both, FedEx and UPS have revealed that they are ready to deliver the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and will do so in the best possible way overnight and by 10.30 am the next day to all the states across the US. 

Once the vaccines are approved, the FedEx Logistics and Custom Critical teams along with their FedEx Priority Alert team will help actively track and monitor the vaccine shipments using various tools including the SenseAware ID. While the delivery of the vaccine is the need of the hour, the logistics are going to play a major role in maintaining the efficacy of the vaccine. Interestingly, both the vaccines have a different way of working. Richard Smith, regional president of the Americas and executive vice president, FedEx Express, explaining the difference in the vaccines said Moderna has opted to use American pharmaceutical distribution company McKesson Corporation to put together the full package in order to do the kitting of the vaccine, which includes the syringes, needles and the alcohol wipes. However, it is different with the Pfizer vaccine as it will come directly from their manufacturing site and it will be packed at the administration site. “We can connect with our network and will not be a challenge as more vaccines are ready. They are asking us to transport them rapidly and reliably from Point A to Point B from the distributor sites to all the administrator sites, and we do that every day,” said Smith.

Like FedEx Express, UPS has been quite busy and they are a partner in Operation Warp Speed, the US public-private partnership to accelerate the manufacturing and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. Most recently, UPS has been involved with Pfizer as their logistics partner for the Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials, Wesley Wheeler, president of Global Healthcare, UPS, shed light on their specifics. He said that while the Pfizer vaccine will come directly from the manufacturing site, it does require a diluant and will be going with the McKesson shipment a day before the vaccines arrive and that works positively. “It gives us good visibility of where the vaccines will be delivered, so, if there is any error in the addresses, we will know. So, when the kits arrive at the dosing sites, and the vaccine the next day, we top it up with dry ice.”

Now, UPS also has a new dedicated 24/7 command center to help monitor the vaccine shipments. Each package will also carry a UPS-exclusive active tag which provides visibility in their network. The company has also designed software that can detect network disruptions before they occur, and then recommend counter-measures in real time. Last but not the least, it has also invested in dry ice manufacturing capacity for replenishment at dosing sites where needed. UPS will produce over 24,000 pounds of dry ice per day in our Louisville facility and they will ship a box with 40 pounds of dry ice to all Pfizer dosing locations a day after the vaccine arrives.

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