United Airlines Holdings Inc., reportedly began operating charter flights on Friday to better position Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for distribution once inoculation is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
United will fly chartered planes from Brussels International Airport to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as part of the FAA-backed “first mass aerial shipment of a vaccine,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
The news of the charter flight security comes as Pfizer began laying the groundwork to move the vaccine quickly once the FDA and other regulators approved it.
According to the Journal, Pfizer has expanded its storage capacity at specific distribution sites in Pleasant Prairie, Wisc., And Karlsruhe, Germany. The pharmaceutical company plans to use frozen storage the size of a suitcase in cargo planes and trucks to distribute the vaccine around the world.
Pfizer and United Airlines did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
United Airlines will be allowed to carry five times the amount of dry ice normally allowed on board to keep the vaccine at the necessary cold temperature.
Other freight and passenger airlines have also started preparing for future vaccine shipments, the Journal reported.
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Earlier, Andrew Peterson, assistant professor of philosophy at George Mason University raised the complex issue of vaccine transport and distribution because it must be stored at temperatures of 70 degrees Celsius or less.
“The logistics of distributing the Pfizer vaccine, if proven to be safe and effective, will no doubt be a Herculean task,” Peterson told Fox News. “Beyond the challenge of physically transporting the vaccine by air and land to distribution centers across America and around the world, there are additional hurdles in keeping the vaccine at sub-zero temperatures and monitoring deliveries for theft.
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Last week, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech requested emergency approval for their coronavirus vaccine candidate with the aim of getting it to the world’s population as quickly as possible.
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The vaccine has been called more than 90% effective in preventing people from getting sick during phase 3 trials.