“As a result of the historic pace of vaccine development through Operation Warp Speed and careful logistics planning, the FAA today is supporting the first mass air shipment of a vaccine,” the FAA said in a statement to The Hill.
“The FAA established the ‘FAA COVID-19 Vaccine Air Transport Team’ in October to ensure safe, expeditious, and efficient transportation of vaccines. Several vaccines need continued cold temperatures during transport, which, in some circumstances, require dry ice, a hazardous material,” the FAA continued.
United Airlines’ cargo arm earlier this year established a “COVID Readiness Task Team” to ensure the airline is ready to support global vaccine distribution.
“We have made a commitment to our pharmaceutical and medical customers that we are ready to safely and effectively support their vaccine transportation needs,” a United spokesperson said, adding that the safety and security of the vaccine “is our priority.”
United isn’t the only airline working on transporting vaccines. American Airlines has been conducting trial flights from Miami to South America to test thermal packaging as well as operational processes for shipping vaccines. FedEx and DHL, two of the largest dedicated cargo companies in the world, have rolled out temperature-monitoring systems to track vaccine shipments. UPS and Germany’s Lufthansa are building so-called “freezer farms” by adding large quantities of refrigerators at their hubs to afford additional storage for low-temperature vaccines in transit.