The U.S. pharmaceutical giant is preparing to ship billions of Covid-19 vaccines using frozen boxes, cargo planes and trucks in a mega logistics operation.
In Kalamazoo, Mich., a stretch of land the size of a football field has been turned into a staging ground outfitted with 350 large freezers, ready to take delivery of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccine before they can be shipped around the world.
The facility is a hub in the sprawling supply chain Pfizer Inc. has built to handle the delivery of a vaccine widely awaited as a possible relief from the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. pharmaceutical giant says it wants to deliver up to 100 million doses this year and another 1.3 billion in 2021.
Like other drugmakers testing potential vaccines, Pfizer is urgently laying the groundwork with its logistics partners so it can move quickly if its vaccine gets the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration and other regulators around the world.
“It’s the biggest-ever vaccination campaign,” said Tanya Alcorn, Pfizer’s supply-chain vice president. “If we get the FDA approval, we will be able to ship the vaccines very shortly after.”
The New York-based drugmaker is working with Germany’s BioNTech SE on one of several experimental Covid-19 vaccines in late-stage testing. Pfizer says it may know whether its vaccine works by the end of October and that it could be ready to apply for emergency-use authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine by late November.
The company’s effort to deliver relief to pandemic-weary populations will revolve around refrigerated storage sites at two of the company’s final assembly centers—the Kalamazoo facility and another in Puurs, Belgium—and rely on dozens of cargo-jet flights and hundreds of truck trips every day. Distribution centers in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., and in Karlsruhe, Germany, have been outfitted for extra storage capacity.
Pfizer so far has spent about $2 billion on developing the vaccine and setting up the distribution network.
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