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Carriers Boost Flexibility to Aid in Rapid COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

The availability of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines came just in time to lift holiday spirits. The global vaccine distribution campaign represents one of the most significant logistical challenges the world has seen in decades, and many in the logistics industry are working together to get the job done. The effort to vaccinate the globe relies on many people beyond chemists, scientists, pharmacists, and healthcare personnel. Factory workers, truck drivers, pilots, and carriers are hard at work ensuring safe and efficient delivery of these vital inoculations to locations across the world.

While parcel networks have already been operating in peak season-like conditions for months, carriers were prepared and pledged that vaccines would take precedence over delivering holiday orders. Carriers have reserved enough space in their networks to handle the expected shipments of vaccines, with many ensuring they get the fast-lane treatment meant for priority packages, with a commitment for next-day delivery. In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, carriers even waived some label printing requirements to increase the speed with which vaccines could be distributed.

On the heels of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the vaccine, major carriers UPS and FedEx delivered 2.9 million Pfizer doses during the first week of availability in the U.S. Based on plans developed with the U.S. federal government’s Operation Warp Speed for vaccine distribution, FedEx and UPS have roughly divided the nation in two, with FedEx supplying the western states and UPS those in the east. Upon EUA of the Moderna vaccine, Operation Warp Speed also allocated 5.9 million Moderna doses and 2 million more Pfizer doses for delivery the week of December 21.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, many major carriers have been active in their relief efforts leading up to their roles in vaccine distribution, including delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) and humanitarian aid shipments on a global level.

2020 has been full of unparalleled unknowns, many of which came to a head in the final month of the year with the fastest vaccine development and global rollout known to date, leaving supply chain leaders to act quickly. Undoubtedly, adopting an agile approach to shipping to create a flexible supply chain has helped these carriers work more effectively with pharmaceutical and healthcare shippers to put this massive vaccine distribution plan into action. The extraordinary steadiness from carriers supporting an unprecedented peak shipping season and vaccine distribution has heralded a happy holiday and a hopeful new year.

At Logistyx, we’re grateful to the more than 550 carrier partners within our extensive carrier services network for their part in the successful global distribution of these critical COVID-19 vaccinations.