Temperature controlled packaging manufacturers continue to play a pivotal part in the global deployment of these approved vital vaccines, including those developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford University/AstraZeneca and Moderna.
As COVID-19 vaccines fall into different families of technology, some have frozen and deep frozen temperature requirements, leading to a scramble to qualify existing solutions for shipping at those specific lower temperatures.
In a rapid response to the logistical cold chain challenges involved in the deployment of these potentially lifesaving vaccines, we have adapted our shippers to meet those temperature requirements, as have other providers in the market.
There has been an impetus for innovation to support these temperatures in volume. Suppliers stepped up to meet the vaccine temperature requirements by adapting existing shipping solutions and the capacity is there, so I don’t anticipate it will be an issue going forward.
The focus is reverted back to the capacities in the transport modes and given the nature of these drugs people are paying whatever it costs to ship them, with rates rising sharply from $2.5 a kilo to $23; however that’s starting to calm down.
Beyond all of the current vaccines being approved there will be the need to provide boosters. It is going to create a recurring step up in the volume of vaccines being shipped, alongside the flu vaccines being transported and other pharmaceutical payloads every year.
There will not be a continuous crisis, it will be a continuing trend of smaller aircraft, with reduced air freight capacities, moving that pharma product at temperatures that sea freight cannot do. It really can only fly.
However, there’s not going to be a modal shift from air to sea because sea cannot meet the temperature requirements necessary for these shipments. You get a displacement, whereby COVID-19 shipments, whether vaccines, test kits and reagents or some of the therapies which help with recuperation, like Remdesivir, are flying at almost any cost on a dwindling resource.