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FedEx begins distributing Moderna vaccine in Canada (with video)

COVID-19 vaccine is first to arrive in Northwest Territories after arriving from Europe

FedEx Express flew containers of Moderna vaccine from Europe to Toronto and FedEx Canada will distribute them. (Photo: FedEx Corp.)

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. 

A FedEx 777 freighter arrives at Toronto Pearson Airport with Moderna vaccines. Temperature-controlled vehicles then transport them to Innomar Strategies facilities. (Source: FedEx)

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.

Click here for more FreightWaves and American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals and a Silver Medal from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government and trade coverage, and news analysis. He was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He won Environmental Journalist of the Year from the Seahorse Freight Association in 2014 and was the group's 2013 Supply Chain Journalist of the Year. In December 2022, Eric was voted runner up for Air Cargo Journalist by the Seahorse Freight Association. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. He has appeared on Marketplace, ABC News and National Public Radio to talk about logistics issues in the news. Eric is based in Vancouver, Washington. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]