MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — Airline passenger travel is down because of the coronavirus pandemic, but industry leaders say cargo flights will become busier once a COVID-19 vaccine is developed and released.
“It will be a logistical challenge that the world has not seen before,” DHL Global Forwarding CEO David Goldberg said.
DHL is already discussing how they will handle transporting the vaccine. According to DHL, 125,000 to 140,000 doses of the vaccine will fit onto one Boeing 747, Goldberg said.
8,000 airplanes will be needed to ship 1 billion doses.
42 vaccines are undergoing clinical trials around the world. It’s still not known which state, or country, the approved vaccines will ultimately come from.
“I think there has never been a pandemic in our lifetime and there has never been one vaccine that is needed by the whole world in one single time,” Goldberg said.
Transporting the vaccine is more complicated than just moving it from point A to point B. The shipments have to be kept very cold. In some cases, the vaccine must be kept at nearly 100 degrees below Fahrenheit.
Experts say cargo ships will also be used because of the sheer volume of vaccines that will need to be moved around the world.
“It is going to be something that requires cold storage so there is going to be a lot of logistical issues there,” Dr. Amesh Adalja with John Hopkins Center for Health Security said. “That is why you are seeing the U.S. military be involved and other companies be involved in trying to figure out how to get the vaccine into the arms of Americans. Because if it does not get distributed well, it is of no use. We have to get it into people.”
Pharma-hub airports, like Miami International Airport, have the infrastructure in place to handle the vaccine.
Cargo airlines such as Miami-based Amerijet, already transport vaccines for other diseases.
From the moment the shipments come off their planes, they say all their ground handlers are trained on how to handle vaccines and other pharmaceuticals.
“The important thing to understand is this type of movement happens every day. So regular vaccines for every other disease in the world move like this. Our logistics supply chain is set up for it and we can do it,” Derry Huff with Amerijet said.
Cargo companies said security will be another potential issue when it comes to transporting the COVID-19 vaccine because it will be considered valuable and in-demand.