Cold chain capacity crisis looms ahead of Covid-19 vaccine rollout. Are you prepared?

Top players from cold chain logistics’ pharma, biologics, and life sciences sector sound alarm on the upcoming burden on temperature-controlled shipping capacity as the global supply chain plans for the safe distribution of Covid-19 vaccines requiring strict temperature management, some as cold as -20 to -30⁰C.


Sponsored by QProducts & Services

As states begin to release their draft Covid-19 vaccine distribution plans, the vaccine cold chain requirements from manufacturer to patient present the biggest challenge these supply chains have seen throughout the course of this pandemic.

Compounded by the estimated 6.4 billion flu vaccines manufactured and distributed globally every year, the hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses needed in the US and tens of billions worldwide threaten to stretch temp-controlled resources thin due to the variety of stringent temperature guidelines attached to different types of Covid-19 vaccines in development. The leading candidates belong to the mRNA category of shots, touting an impressive storage/distribution requirement of -94⁰F, with only a 24-hour allowable excursion for refrigerated temperature exposure. Other protein sub-unit vaccines are capable of refrigerated storage for months, yet others garner temp requirements of -4⁰F.

For those familiar with the escalating prices of temp controlled airfreight and ground transportation due to the normal increase in demand, service cost, and the additional stress of ongoing pandemic related issues, the need to scramble for alternatives under the pressure of vaccine distribution can be a stark reality. Inevitably, everyday temp-sensitive cargo will be squeezed out of their place in line for temp-controlled equipment, forcing shippers to become flexible in how they manage their logistics moving into 2021 and beyond.

How to remain flexible in a capacity crunch

Equipment selection for the right products at the right time

  • Identify when you can ship safely without temperature-controlled equipment, utilizing passive thermal protection (i.e., pallet covers) to eliminate possible excursions, dry equipment during times when environmental risk is low enough, or a combination of both to avoid delays and service disruption.
  • Use what you know about your product specs, your shipping lanes, and your service providers.
  • Examine lane risk using weather data and product data of each shipment ahead of scheduling.

Protection on the tarmac without paying for active containers

  • Reflective pallet covers with varying levels of insulation can maintain product temps for hours on the tarmac.
  • Add phase change materials like gels and pre-condition for pallet-shipper protection without the pallet shipper prices.

Transportation mode selection

  • Now’s a good time to explore switching from air to ocean where applicable. It’s less expensive and more available with temp-controlled service.
  • Ocean freight excursions can be eliminated using breathable pallet covers that maintain pallet temps in refrigerated containers during off-shore and on-shore power outages.
  • Check out full container protection in the form of CargoQuilt®or Container Kit

QProducts & Services provides flexibility and alternatives to shipping temperature-sensitive freight by utilizing passive thermal protection and cargo security, including providing pallet protection for Covid-19 vaccine trials. For over 25 years, we have served the pharma, life sciences, and healthcare industries, helping in the safe distribution of CRT and 2-8⁰C products. With our ear to the ground throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we have worked to continue manufacturing our American Made products full-time, in a commitment to keeping the supply chain and cold chains moving so people can get the healthcare products, medicine, and food they need every day despite Covid-19 disruptions. In hosting our Cold Chain Council webinars for our community of cold chain professionals from all industries, we invite you to join our Cold Chain Council LinkedIn group to share your insight on current challenges in your cold chain and add to the conversation!

Our next webinar features Georgios Ampartzidis from the World Federation of Hemophilia and Ed De Reyes of Sabrewing Aircraft Company discussing ways to ship temp-sensitive and life-saving medications to remote and underdeveloped regions of the world. Interested in attending? Register here.

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