Vaccine distribution is rather like looking at the coast of England. From a distance it appears rather smooth and curvy. But the closer you look, the more inlets and zigzags you see.
When I looked closely at Covid-19 vaccine distribution plans, one of the “zigzags” was a freezer farm.
Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution
A Covid-19 vaccine transport strategy is beginning to develop. But until there is a vaccine, we can’t be sure of how cold to keep it. Most vaccines can be moved at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (35.6 to 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit). However, the new vaccine might have to be colder.
Preparing for vaccine transport, UPS (United Parcel Service) is creating two freezer farms. At sites near their air hubs in Louisville, Kentucky and Venlo, The Netherlands, the company will have a total of 600 deep freezers. At $10,000-$50,000 apiece, each freezer can hold 48,000 vials. They needed separate units because -112 degrees Fahrenheit (-80 degrees Celsius), is too cold for walk-in.
More Supply Chain Links
UPS will be a part of a much bigger supply chain that has some people worried. Thinking of air cargo capacity problems, we can imagine one Boeing 777 freighter that can carry no more than one million individual vaccine doses–a tiny proportion of the billions the world will need. Also, normal cargo is fine with a tarmac delay but a temperature/time sensitive vaccine could be ruined. And finally, one Miami Airport executive was concerned that “If all of a sudden, 30 charter flights arrive with vaccines to be distributed across the Americas, we are going to have a challenge. It will be difficult.”
Our Bottom Line: Production and Distribution
Below you can see a Covid-19 vaccine production and distribution overview:
So where are we? Covid-19 vaccine distribution is really the last chapter of a classic economic story.
My sources and more: Thanks to mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot for the coast of England comparison. I also appreciate that yesterday, Bloomberg radio alerted me to UPS freezer farms. From there, Bloomberg had more on the vaccine supply chain, here, as did this supply chain article, and WSJ.
Our featured image of a freezer farm is from UPS via Bloomberg.