PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — Pfizer is preparing to ship its COVID-19 vaccine from its plant in Portage as it awaits approval from the Food and Drug Administration, which could be given as soon as the end of this week.
One of the biggest challenges is keeping the vaccine temperature around -94 degrees Fahrenheit all the way to its destination.
Boxes will be packed with 1,000 doses each using 50 pounds of dry ice to keep the vials cold.
FedEx and UPS will then deliver the vaccine by plane and truck to locations across the country.
International shipper DHL is also working on getting the vaccine around the world.
Larry St Onge is the company’s president of life sciences and health care. He spoke with CNBC this week.
“We anticipate every pallet of vaccines will require an addition 25 to 30 pallets of accessories to go with that. It encompasses syringes and swabs and all of the other accouterments that go into a vaccine program,” St Onge said.
Reusable containers will play a crucial role during shipping.
“It becomes a challenge… if we can’t recycle and get that packaging back quick enough to be able to replenish the manufacturing capacity that Pfizer is able to generate,” St Onge said.
The Kalamazoo County Department of Health and Community Services will be one destination to receive the vaccine as a regional hub. The state recently installed a new specialty freezer.
Other shipments will go directly to medical providers.
“The biggest challenge of the whole thing is really around that final mile. Realistically, there will be some product that gets lost or potentially doesn’t arrive at the right temperature,” St Onge said.
The FDA advisory committee is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday.