Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) plans to distribute its potential COVID-19 vaccine directly to the locations where it will be administered in Canada in specialized, temperature-controlled containers filled with dry ice under a “flexible just-in-time” logistics scheme, the company said.
The pharmaceutical giant is developing its Canadian distribution plan with federal and provincial government agencies to deploy the vaccine in the event it is approved for use.
“We are working with urgency in collaboration with stakeholders, including Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada and Provincial/Territorial public health decision-makers, to determine the logistics of the vaccine distribution in Canada, pending regulatory approval,” Pfizer Canada spokesperson Christina Antoniou told FreightWaves in an email.
While Pfizer would not detail how it intends to get its vaccines to Canada, its direct delivery closely resembles its plans for the U.S. A key difference: Determining the delivery sites will require close collaboration with provincial and territorial health authorities, which administer Canada’s universal health care system.
Canada has ordered 20 million doses of the potential vaccine being jointly developed by Pfizer and German firm BioNTech. The companies announced on Monday that preliminarily clinical trial data indicated the vaccine candidate was 90% effective.
“We see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said of the preliminary results of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine during a news conference on Monday.
Government contract notice points to Pfizer taking larger role in logistics of own vaccine
The Canadian government is selecting logistics providers to distribute COVID-19 vaccines from multiple manufacturers. But public procurement documents suggest that government contracted logistics providers would likely take on a more supportive role for the Pfizer vaccine.
A Thursday procurement notice stated, without naming Pfizer directly, that a vaccine with its specifications would be transported to Canada by the manufacturer.
The providers “must have the resources and capability to support with safe delivery, management and disposal of dry ice in any jurisdiction” and could be called upon to support the distribution and storage of the vaccine as a “redundancy measure,” according to the public procurement document.
While the potential vaccine has shown the most promise in protecting people from COVID-19, it also has the most stringent temperature requirement among those under development. The vaccines have to be stored and transported at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Pfizer intends to distribute the vaccine with a similar approach to what is envisaged for the United States by utilizing specially designed containers — about the size of a suitcase.
“We have developed detailed logistical plans and tools to support effective vaccine transport, storage and temperature monitoring,” Antoniou said. “Our distribution is built on a flexible just in time system which will ship the frozen vials to the point of vaccination.”
According to Pfizer, its customized containers can keep the doses within its recommended temperature range for up to 10 days. The containers can be used as temporary cold storage if the dry ice is replenished, the company said. Once removed from ultra-cold storage, the vaccine vials can be kept at a refrigerated temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (35.6 to 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit.)