How Pfizer is preparing to distribute its COVID-19 vaccine: 6 things to know

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As Pfizer anticipates receiving authorization to distribute its COVID-19 vaccine as early as November, it's also finalizing plans to distribute it, The Wall Street Journal reported.  

The drugmaker said it plans to deliver up to 100 million doses of the vaccine this year and another 1.3 billion in 2021. 

Six things to know about Pfizer's vaccine distribution plans: 

  1. To keep vaccines safe during distribution, Pfizer designed a reusable, suitcase-sized container to keep the vaccines at ultracold temperatures for up to 10 days. The containers can hold 1,000 to 5,000 vaccine doses each, according to the Journal. The containers are packed with dry ice and tracked by GPS.

  2. Large stretches of land in Kalamazoo, Mich., and Puurs, Belgium, are being turned into staging areas to hold hundreds of large freezers, which will transport the vaccines. The vaccines need to be stored at minus 94 degrees.

  3. Pfizer distribution centers in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., and Karlsruhe, Germany, have been repurposed as extra storage capacity.

  4. Distribution relies on dozens of cargo jet flights and hundreds of truck trips every day, the Journal reported. Pfizer says boxes of vaccine doses will be loaded onto 24 trucks every day from its sites in Kalamazoo and Puurs, and the trucks will take about 7.6 million doses to airports every day. Pfizer also said it plans to take cargo space on about 20 flights per day on planes to fly vaccines to vaccination centers.

  5. Unlike traditional vaccine distribution plans, Pfizer doesn't plan to use a wholesaler, the Journal reported. Tanya Alcorn, Pfizer’s supply-chain vice president, told the Journal that a wholesaler would add time and a touch point to the sensitive frozen product.

  6. The total average time a vaccine is expected to take to get from a distribution center to point of use is three days.

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