COVID vaccine moving at Warp Speed via air and on ice helped by FAA

vaccine, LD-3 container, UA jet, Operation Warp Speed, FAA, COVID-19 AIR TRANSPORT TEAM
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Massive amount of COVID-19 vaccine needs to be moved expeditiously

Air Transportation offers fastest transportation, but Dry Ice is Hazard

FAA Covid-19 Air Transport Team provides a solution

“The vaccine is coming via air and in dry ice under Operation  Warp Speed” (DOD)is the primary message of the main stream press. With almost no publicity, the FAA Covid-19 Air Transport Team removed a number of impediments to allow the carriage of this critical medicine from the points of manufacture to the millions of American who desperately need these inoculations.

Brussels Chicago Flight

Brussels and Chicago are both convenient international airports 
for Pfizer's plants in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Puurs, Belgium, 
where the final assembly of the vaccine takes place. Chicago is 
also close to Pfizer's distribution site in Pleasant Prairie, 
Wisconsin, which is being expanded in preparation for the 
vaccine roll out.

The FAA said it would allow carriers to carry 15,000 pounds of dry ice per flight, which is five times more than normally allowed. This solid form of carbon dioxide is considered a dangerous good and requires a number of identification documents. Its carriage on aircraft  is controlled based on risks in recognition of the possibility of leaks of carbon dioxide, which may not be detected during flight.

dangerous goods_ actions

The shippers have created suitcase-size boxes packed with dry ice to keep their vaccine doses at the sub, subzero temperatures. This “boxing”  means they can ship the vaccine quicker, by eliminating the need for large temperature-controlling containers. Presumably, FAA Covid-19 Air Transport Team[1] reviewed the risks associated with extremely low temperatures at which the shippers’ vaccine must be stored and found whatever proactive measures included met the safety standards[2].

covid container

Airlines in the Warp Speed Program

United Airlines Begins Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Charter Flights

United Flight

As part of the flights, United has sought permission to carry more dry ice than usually allowed on aircraft to maintain the extremely low temperatures that Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored in. Though airlines usually get to carry up to 3,000 pounds of dry ice per flight, the FAA says it will allow United to carry up to 15,000 pounds of dry ice per flight. Pfizer has developed suitcase-sized containers with dry ice to keep vaccine doses cold.

On Friday, a United spokesperson said, “United Cargo established a COVID Readiness Task Team earlier this summer to help ensure we have the right people, products, services, and partnerships in place to support a vaccine distribution effort on a global scale. We have made a commitment to our pharmaceutical and medical customers that we are ready to safely and effectively support their vaccine transportation needs. The safety and security of these commodities is our priority and we are proud to be a trusted partner in these efforts.”


American Airlines Begins Trials for Covid Vaccine Transport

American cargo load

Early vaccine candidates require extremely cold temperatures—as low as minus 100 degrees Celsius—during storage and transport to remain effective. Calling itself an expert in cold-chain logistics, American has already transported components for Phase 3 Covid vaccine trials, including carrying test vaccines and specimens to research facilities around the world.

The airline said it has an established network of facilities and employees who specialize in temperature-critical shipments and know how to meet the variety of requirements that different pharmaceuticals might need. Vaccine shipments can travel in “active containers” with built-in temperature controls that regulate and monitor shipments during transport or “passive containers” cooled with cold packs or dry ice in an enclosed system designed to keep the product cold for the life of its journey.


UPS, Delta Prepare for COVID-19 Vaccine Shipments


Delta and UPS cargoAir cargo is normally a key part of distributing temperature-sensitive vaccines, but will require lots of advance planning with governments, according to the International Air Transport Association

Sandy Springs-based UPS is expanding freezer farms in Louisville and CEO Carol Tomé told investors Wednesday the company has been working on logistics for clinical trials, giving it “valuable data and insights” for distribution.

UPS has announced logistics service enhancements to aid in the massive distribution efforts for COVID-19 vaccines in the coming months. UPS Healthcare now can produce up to 1,200 pounds of dry ice per hour in its U.S. facilities to support the storage and transportation of cold chain products, such as frozen vaccines, in accordance with manufacturer storage requirements.

The increased production also allows UPS to make dry ice available for U.S. and Canadian hospitals, clinics and other points of care requiring dry ice to store vaccines locally. Dry ice will be sourced at UPS Worldport and can be available next day.

Delta, which has its largest hub at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, said Tuesday it has expanded its cooler facilities at its Atlanta warehouse and will use a special cooler container in cargo holds of its planes to ship vaccines.


COVID-19 pandemic: Adequate planning, industry partnerships can help govts overcome logistics woes, says DHL study

DHL freight loading

Commenting on such logistical challenges involved in the fight against COVID-19 , Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer at DHL said, “The COVID-19 crisis emerged with an unprecedented breadth and impact. It required governments, businesses, and the logistics industry alike to adapt quickly to new challenges. As a world leader in logistics, we want to share our experience of operating during one of the biggest health crises in recent history, in order to develop strategies in an ever-more connected world.”

DHL’s white paper notes that there are currently about 250 candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine in various stages of development. “The potential vaccines are being developed on multiple platforms with each platform generating the immune response through a different mechanism…al distribution capabilities, as well as packaging and transportation sustainability, will all likely be a function of whether temperature requirements for safe and efficacious vaccines will be as low as -80°C or end up falling in the +2–8°C range,” the study noted.

Good infrastructure facilities, including a pre-established network of warehouses and transportation capabilities, can help ensure sufficient stock of critical supplies, the study noted.

“At the same time, our DHL Global Forwarding division has a major life science and healthcare certified facility at Chicago O’Hare which will play an important role in our activities to support the vaccine logistics,” the spokesman said.

Dry Ice Cloud

FAA actions


FAA supports first ‘mass air shipment’ of COVID-19 vaccine

 November 28, 2020

FAAMA logo


From CNN-



The Federal Aviation Administration says it has supported “the first mass air shipment” of a Covid-19 vaccine. “As a result of the historic pace of vaccine development through Operation Warp Speed and careful logistics planning, the FAA today is supporting the first mass air shipment of a vaccine,” the agency said in a statement Friday.

The FAA said it established a Covid-19 air transport team in October “to ensure safe, expeditious, and efficient transportation of vaccines.”

It said that several vaccines needed to be transported with dry ice and it was working with manufacturers, air carriers and airports to provide guidance on regulations to safely transport large quantities of the hazardous substance in air cargo.

“In addition to mitigating safety risks related to the safe transport of vaccines, the FAA is ensuring around-the-clock air traffic services to keep air cargo moving and prioritizing flights carrying cargo, such as vaccines, and personnel critical to the nation’s response to and recovery from Covid-19,” Friday’s FAA statement reads.

[1] The FAA action is not available through its website.

[2] Pack Safe – Dry ice (;AC 91-76A – Hazard Associated with Sublimation of Solid Carbon Dioxide (Dry Ice) Aboard Aircraft (

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2 Comments on "COVID vaccine moving at Warp Speed via air and on ice helped by FAA"

  1. FAA Statement on First Flight of COVID-19 Vaccine
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    News type:
    News & Updates
    FAA Statement on First Flight of COVID-19 VaccineWASHINGTON — Since the onset of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has worked proactively with other U.S. government agencies, air carriers, and aviation stakeholders to ensure the continued safe transport of critical medical supplies and personnel. As a result of the historic pace of vaccine development through Operation Warp Speed and careful logistics planning, the FAA today is supporting the first mass air shipment of a vaccine.

    The FAA established the “FAA COVID-19 Vaccine Air Transport Team” in October to ensure safe, expeditious, and efficient transportation of vaccines. Several vaccines need continued cold temperatures during transport, which, in some circumstances, require dry ice, a hazardous material. The FAA is working with manufacturers, air carriers, and airport authorities to provide guidance on implementing current regulatory requirements for safely transporting large quantities of dry ice in air cargo.

    In addition to mitigating safety risks related to the safe transport of vaccines, the FAA is ensuring around-the-clock air traffic services to keep air cargo moving and prioritizing flights carrying cargo, such as vaccines, and personnel critical to the nation’s response to and recovery from COVID-19.

    Page last modified: December 02, 2020 5:45:39 PM EST

  2. from Politico The transportation network will play a major role in distributing the vaccines that are almost ready for the American people, and both companies and the federal government are gearing up to launch those efforts. There’s a hearing this week in the Senate Commerce Committee featuring executives from both FedEx and UPS, which will “examine transportation and logistics plans for ensuring Covid-19 vaccines are delivered across the country.”

    DOT says it’s taken “necessary regulatory measures” to ensure that vaccines can be transported by land and air. Transportation authorities and other Operation Warp Speed officials have been coordinating with the companies mentioned above and others, and have “established the appropriate safety requirements for all potential hazards involved in shipping the vaccine, including standards for dry ice and lithium batteries used in cooling,” DOT said

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