Distribution of Modern Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine is underway in Canada following Thursday afternoon’s delivery by FedEx Express (NYSE: FDX) of two temperature-controlled containers to Toronto International Airport.
FedEx Canada, which is responsible for physical deliveries in the country, said part of the initial shipment was routed for distribution in the Northwest Territories.
The Canadian government recently issued a CA$90.4 million ($70.5 million) contract to FedEx Canada and partner Innomar Strategies to handle logistics for COVID-19 vaccines from manufacturers other than Pfizer/BioNTech.
Innomar, the Canadian subsidiary of U.S. drug distributor AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC), is storing the Moderna (NASDQ: MRNA) vaccine at refrigerated warehouses. From there, individual shipments will be labeled, packed in thermal coolers and dispatched through the FedEx Canada delivery network.
The Moderna shipment from Brussels, via Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, arrived within 48 hours of Health Canada approving the vaccine’s use. The extreme urgency and security surrounding the shipments required extra coordination between the manufacturer, FedEx, customs authorities, airport service providers, and internal security teams working the federal and provincial law enforcement.
The delivery comes on the heels of FedEx, along with UPS, beginning large-scale U.S. distribution of the Moderna vaccine, as well as one produced by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, in the past two weeks.
For all vaccine deliveries around the world, FedEx SenseAware technology is placed inside each shipment. The wireless device has multiple sensors that provide real-time data about temperature, location and light exposure to ensure the freshness and security of the vaccines.
“As health care providers nationwide prepare to administer the initial wave of COVID-19 vaccines, we are focused on providing the logistics support needed to help ensure residents in all corners of Canada have safe and timely access to a vaccine—both now and in the months to come,” said Guy Payette, president of Innomar Strategies, in a statement. “This initial shipment marks a significant milestone in the country’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team at Innomar is prepared and ready to support the successful rollout of this first shipment—and all subsequent COVID-19 vaccine shipments that we receive over the next several months.”
Canada began receiving shipments of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine two weeks ago. Canada’s supply is being made at a plant in Belgium and initially arrived in Montreal on a flight operated by UPS (NYSE: UPS), as well as on trucks crossing the border from Pfizer’s (NYSE: PFE) U.S. facilities in the Midwest.
Canada, with a population of 38 million, has pre-bought or reserved 400 million doses of vaccines from various manufacturers as insurance against any potential supply chain disruptions.