The Challenge of Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution

The Covid-19 vaccines have raised hopes around the world, but BioNTEch’s vaccines must be kept at a temperature of -70 to -80 degrees Celsius during transport, a logistical challenge as the cold chain cannot be broken. Fraport at Frankfurt Airport has been working on this since March.

Joachim von Winning, is Managing Director of Air Cargo Community Frankfurt:

“For large quantities, we also verify the processes to load the containers directly at the producer’s facilities. The containers are transported in a temperature-controlled truck to the runway, from where they are loaded onto the aircraft. The breaks and the exposure time to environmental influences are minimal. “

The plan is to take the doses to vaccination centers, where they can be kept in the fridge for up to five days. Frankfurt airport is an ideal embarkation point, as many vaccine producers are located in the area. But there is still an obstacle: you cannot fill a plane with a load that cools to -70 to -80 degrees for safety reasons.

Joachim von Winning, Managing Director of Air Cargo Community Frankfurt:

“When we’re in the -70 range, I guess we’ll have mixed flights: we can’t fill a plane with containers of dry ice. This is because dry ice is frozen CO2, which sublimates during flight to maintain temperature, that is, it reverts to a gaseous state and increases the concentration of CO2 on board. “

Not all countries are equipped to deal with such a special high freeze shipment. Right now, only 25 countries around the world can do it.

Joachim von Winning, CEO of Air Cargo Community Frankfurt:

“The limiting factors here are the capacities at the receiving stations in the airports of emerging countries, if there are sufficient refrigeration facilities available. In these countries it is particularly important to work closely with the authorities, in some receiving countries customs delay the shipments of pharmaceutical products take a long time and endanger the integrity of the product. It must be clarified beforehand that they will not be detained at customs. “

Once Covid-19 vaccines are approved, which can be stored at refrigerator temperature, the sky will be the limit.