Recent Posts

What we know about Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine distribution plan


Dive Brief:

  • Pfizer and BioNTech expect the distribution of their COVID-19 vaccine to involve about 12 trucks per day leaving Pfizer's formulation and fill facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and 20 planes taking flight daily around the world, a Pfizer spokesperson said in an email. But first, the vaccine must be approved for distribution.

  • The company confirmed "there are no other main logistics supply chain partners beyond" DHL, FedEx and UPS that are working on distribution plans in the U.S. "We will be utilizing road and air modes of transportation via our main carrier partners in the U.S. where we expect to be able to get product to points of use (POU) within a day or two," according to the spokesperson.

  • The company plans to manufacture up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021, the spokesperson said. The coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 compared to a placebo.

Dive Insight:

Pfizer is gearing up to quickly distribute the coronavirus vaccine once the Food and Drug Administration grants emergency approval.

Vaccine distribution will be limited at first. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla gave the example last month that if the company is able to produce 30 million doses in 2020, that's only enough for 15 million people.

"Which is a very small part of the population," Bourla said on the company's earning's call. "So it's not going to be massively available. It's going to be targeted in its availability. As we move into the first months of 2021 then we are going to have much more massive distribution of the vaccine around the world."

The manufacturer's most recent projections estimate the ability to produce 50 million vaccine doses this year.

Pfizer said it will work with the U.S. government on determining where the vaccines will be distributed first. It said it's currently focused on hospitals, outpatient clinics, community vaccination locations and pharmacies, but added that vaccination points "will vary."

The federal government chose McKesson to lead distribution of the vaccine as part of Operation Warp Speed, but Pfizer has decided not to work through McKesson for its distribution. Instead, Pfizer describes its model as a "flexible just in time system which will ship the frozen vials directly from our plants to the point of vaccination" and said it is still working closely with the government on distribution plans.

DHL said in a report on vaccine distribution that there are three potential models for distribution. The direct shipment model Pfizer is using is described as the fastest method, and the logistics company said it would likely make sense for initial distribution or in cases where the final destination is close to the manufacturing facility.

The reason for avoiding the distributor is the vaccine's strict cold chain requirements, Pfizer said.

This summer, UPS Healthcare President Wes Wheeler named three main temperature ranges in the world of cold storage:

  1. 2-8 degrees Celsius.

  2. Minus