Russian freighter operator AirBridgeCargo has delivered its first shipment of China’s COVID-19 vaccine under the logistics guidance of UPS Marken (NYSE: UPS), the clinical supply chain subsidiary of UPS Healthcare.
AirBridgeCargo, part of the Volga-Dnepr Group, said Monday it transported 6,000 doses of the Ad5-nCoV vaccine made by CanSino Biologics from Beijing to an undisclosed destination for use in clinical trials in various countries. The vaccine is stable at temperature ranges between 35.6 and 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to 8 degrees Celsius).
The shipment weighed 880 pounds and was packed in insulated boxes and transported in a standard, half-sized lower-deck container, according to Volga-Dnepr.
UPS Marken specializes in storing and distributing biological samples and medicines for clinical trials, including direct-to-patient deliveries and related devices.
Volga-Dnepr, like many airlines and logistics companies, has spent months preparing to help distribute COVID-19 vaccines, several of which are close to receiving regulatory approval for emergency use.
The Moscow-based company established a dedicated vaccine task force to follow global vaccine development trends and implement changes to existing processes to ensure safe handling of vaccines at required temperatures. Other vaccines in trial stages require storage at minus 4 degrees F (minus 20 C) to as cold as minus 94 degrees F or more.
Volga-Dnepr group has been busy this year moving medical supplies to combat the coronavirus pandemic, including personal protective equipment, as well as plastic vials, syringes and large pieces of equipment for vaccine production. The company is certified by the International Air Transport Association as meeting the highest industry standards for transporting temperature-controlled products for the pharmaceutical industry. Earlier this month, ABC signed an agreement to lease the Sonoco ThermoSafe insulated unit load device for efficient loading of airfreight shipments that must be maintained in the 35 to 46 degree F temperature range.
Volga-Dnepr has also conducted temperature mapping of all freighters within its fleet, exploring various scenarios for vaccine delivery onboard its Boeing 747, 737, 777 freighters, as well as its super-size An-124 and Ilyushin-76 aircraft that are typically used for oversize shipments such as machinery, vehicles, live animals and engines.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that United Airlines began operating charter flights to position doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for quick distribution if the shots are approved by regulators.