The Covid-19 vaccines, which British citizens have been receiving since Tuesday, were in ultra-fresh freezers across the Channel a few days earlier.

Employees of

Pfizer Inc.

The factory in Puurs, Belgium, loaded thousands of bottles of liquid, stored at almost 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, into modified, thermally protected shipping containers and packed them in dry ice. Loaded on anonymous trucks, they traveled 125 miles to the French coast and traveled by train under the English Channel. On Thursday evening three trucks passed the United Kingdom, while a fourth crossed the Irish Sea.

Last week, employees at the Pfizer Puurs plant in Belgium worked with dry ice.


Olivier Mattis/Presse Associée

A tightly coordinated supply chain is probably one of the easiest in the world.

To stop and then reverse a pandemic, similar exercises will have to be carried out thousands of times around the world, in places far less organized than in Northern Europe. Countries and logistics companies are trying to prepare for the unprecedented problem of supplying millions – if not billions – of cans at carefully controlled temperatures. In some countries, particularly poor countries with weak infrastructure and poor governance, such as in Africa, significant delays may occur. The United Kingdom itself faces an immediate threat of brexitis, which could lead to long delays at the borders.

Even if countries, including the United States, approve vaccines and begin to vaccinate, Britain will become a laboratory for what can be done at high speed and what can go wrong.

Great Britain is an ideal test for the application: A developed country is close to a production site with good health care and a high population density, he said.

Michael Breen,

Director of Infectious Diseases and Ophthalmology at GlobalData, a data analysis company.

Other countries are close to Great Britain. The FDA said Tuesday that the vaccine, produced by Pfizer and its German partner, will be distributed in the United Kingdom,

Biontex SE,

have met their criteria for success in a clinical trial, which could allow the United States to follow Great Britain and give injections this weekend. On Monday, Canadian officials said they would start vaccinations next week.

Britain is the first Western country to launch a massive vaccination programme against Covida-19, making it a test for the rest of the world. WSJ explains its plan to vaccinate millions of people in record time. Photo: Dominik Lipinski/Bloomberg News

This week Russia started vaccinating doctors and other professionals with its own Sputnik V vaccine, but as with the vaccine previously offered in China, it did not pass full clinical trials.

Pfizer has practiced his transport logistics on boats, trucks and airplanes, she says.

Mike McDermott,

President of Pfizer’s global supply chain, which oversees manufacturing and distribution.

We’re pretty sure of that, he said in an interview on Tuesday. There is always a sense of anticipation when you send a product live to your first customer. In our case, it was Britain. The transfer went incredibly well.

A few months ago, the Pfizer plant in Puurs, Belgium, started producing vaccine doses and storing them in ultra-fresh freezers on site. The vulnerable vaccine must be stored at around -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit) to maintain its integrity, making it very difficult to transport. This is the lowest temperature among the major western vaccine candidates.

Moderna Inc.

competitive candidate vaccine must be shipped and stored at -20C, while


The PLC candidate does not need low temperatures. They’re both being reviewed by the FDA.

Pfizer employees waited until the last moment to download the vaccine, McDermott said. They waited eight hours because the British government has to approve not only the vaccine itself, but also every party. The truck drivers had to exceed their working hours when handling the load, so they had to call in a shift to arrive on time to deliver the load.

On Friday, a refrigerated truck arrived at the Pfizer plant in Puurs, Belgium.


Olivier Mattis/Presse Associée

The vaccine doses were packaged in tailor-made heat transporters, each approximately the size of two suitcases and designed to withstand up to 5,000 doses at temperatures close to -70°C for 30 days with the addition of fresh dry ice. The small glass bottles, each containing five boxes, are stored in trays that are folded like pizza boxes and covered inside the sender with dry ice granules.

Each vendor offers a device the size of a mobile phone that acts as a heat sensor and GPS monitor and can even tell you if the packaging has been opened. It passes the information to Pfizer’s control center so the company can verify that the shipment is on its intended route and at the required temperature. The warning is given if the driver deviates from the route, even during a rest break.

Security is a problem. International law enforcement agencies have warned that organised crime groups may attempt to seize stocks and steal vaccines. Cyber Security Department

International Business Machines Corp.

Hackers said Thursday that they are targeting companies and organizations in the cold chain, the part of the supply chain that keeps vaccines at the right temperature.

Vaccine pipeline

The first doses of the vaccine started on Tuesday in the United Kingdom.

How is the Covid 19 vaccine shipped to the UK?

1. Vaccine dosages are produced

in Belgium

2. Individual vaccine freezers can contain between 1,000 and 5,000 doses.

3. The pre-packed boxes are transported and distributed to vaccination centres. A GPS tracker and a temperature sensor transmit the temperature data to ensure safe delivery.

4. In vaccination centres, the vaccines are kept in freezers or refrigerators after thawing.

5. More than 1,500 vaccination centres are being set up in England.

Vaccine bottles

Pfizer’s first vaccines were delivered on Thursday morning by private cargo ships over 125 miles to Coquel in northern France, according to people familiar with the voyage. There the trucks were exchanged with freight trains for a 35-minute journey through the Channel Tunnel to Folkestone, according to the people.

It is expected that more vaccines will be transported across Europe through the continent’s dense road network. But the aviation industry is already preparing to transport billions of cans, while the number of flights worldwide has fallen drastically due to a shortage of passengers. Some airlines have converted their passenger aircraft to carry vaccines by removing seats.

The International Air Transport Association, a trading group, has stated that one dose for each of the world’s 7.8 billion people will fill 8,000 Boeing 747 freighters. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two vaccinations per person. Some logistics companies have stated that this figure seems high and that it is too early to say what kind of cargo will fall on the logistics networks.

On Tuesday, the Covid sisters prepared 19 vaccines at a vaccination centre in Cardiff, South Wales.


Gareth Phillips for the Wall Street Journal.

The biggest problem is that we don’t know how much is being sent.

Cohen Guvelouse,

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Belgian forwarding department of Swissport International AG. Brussels airport is one of the most advanced in Europe for the transport of temperature-controlled medicines. Swissport, a service provider for Zurich airports, opened a $12 million dollar pharmaceutical center at Brussels Airport last year that can extract vaccines from trucks, store them and land them on airplanes while controlling the temperature.

Swissport built this facility because Belgium, with a population of about 11.5 million people, will be the third largest exporter of pharmaceutical products in the world by 2018, according to the umbrella organization of the industry, with a value of 42.9 billion euros, or 52 billion dollars. Major universities and transport links throughout Europe attract the pharmaceutical giants of the world to the region.

The airport has experience in processing Ebola vaccines, which also had to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures for delivery to Africa. In November, the World Health Organization said that Africa is far from being ready for mass immunization, which is hampered by poor infrastructure and poor governance.

The last mile might be the hardest, Gowellous said.

For vaccines destined for the United Kingdom, movements have been simplified by transporting them in the same lorries. But there are potential obstacles, in particular the uncertainty surrounding the Brecit agreement between the UK and the European Union leaving the UK. If no agreement is reached on their future relationship by the end of the year, officials fear that the trucks on both sides of the Channel will withdraw.

The British government said on Tuesday that it could use the army, including aircraft, to deliver the vaccines if deliveries were delayed.

This is such an important product, perhaps the most important, that we will try to ensure that these stocks are available in the UK under all circumstances, said James Cleverly, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, British Broadcasting Corporation. About 13,500 soldiers are ready to help with the parking, the minister said.

James Happy.

On Tuesday the nurses briefed some of the first participants in the Covid 19 vaccine in Cardiff, South Wales.


Gareth Phillips for the Wall Street Journal.

The trucks arrived in England on Thursday and went to government-owned warehouses managed by Movianto, a healthcare logistics company. The government-bought ultra-fresh freezers were placed in warehouses, according to

Martin Sawyer,

Chief Executive Officer of the Healthcare Distributor Association, which represents the pharmaceutical suppliers involved in the distribution of vaccines.

Some freezers have been lent to a network of small warehouses operated by HDA members who will receive and store vaccine doses until they receive requests from public hospitals and immunization centers.

Upon request, warehouse staff bring the vaccines from the freezers to the cold stores – large refrigerators in which the vials are defrosted for more than three hours.

From there they are transported by refrigerated lorries to hospitals, pharmacies, doctors’ surgeries and sports halls, which form the patchwork of the British mass vaccination centres.

In the initial phase, due to the complexity of the vaccine requirement, the vaccine will generally be limited to locations where freezers are available for the storage of the vaccine. Fifty hospitals throughout England and a small number of others in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are the first to introduce the vaccine. Over the next few weeks, Britain hopes to send vaccines to more than 1,500 small vaccination centres short of doctors and pharmacies.

The thawed vaccine vials remain stable at 2-8 degrees Celsius for five days. They can only be transported twice on the road for up to 12 hours, Mr Soher said. This means not only a rush to get the vaccines to their destination, but also the need for a clear link between vaccination centres and warehouses to avoid waste.

It’s all about the power. There’s no point in defrosting them if there aren’t enough patients on the other side, Soher said.

Participantswho received their first Covid-19 vaccine took a break after Tuesday’s injections in Cardiff, South Wales.


Gareth Phillips for the Wall Street Journal.

In the adjoining area of the Cardiff Sports Centre in Cardiff, Wales, on Tuesday, thawed vaccines that had arrived the day before were removed from the fridge and prepared for injection. The pharmacist regularly checked the temperature of the stored vaccines, while the staff followed the precautionary procedure described in the government instructions by turning the vials ten times before mixing them with the sodium chloride solution and then turning them more than ten times.

In the hall, the inoculation doses were delivered ready for introduction to the cabins, which were separated by blue hospital curtains on the walls. Patients sat and waited for chairs on marked crosses on the floor so that they could be safely separated from each other. Each of them was accompanied in the cockpit by a nurse for the first dose.

Appointments were spaced 15 minutes apart, although the nurses only needed two minutes to confirm personal details and take a photo. It’s because the staff wanted to allow problems with the teeth, he said.

Lynn Cronin,

The nurse gives the injections.

It’s better to wait and see how things go than to try and put something in, Cronin said.

Paul Arnold,

A 47-year-old hospital employee who fired the shot said it was quick and easy.

Most of the traffic is on the road, he said.


What can the United States learn from the spread of the Covid-19 vaccine in Britain? Take part in the interview below.

Mr. Arnold said he was looking forward to meeting his old mother for the first time in almost a year. He was unable to work in the roles most exposed to Covid-19 patients because an autoimmune disease makes him particularly susceptible to it.

The worst was a few headaches and headaches, he said.

Darren Cook,

the head nurse of the intensive care unit at Cardiff University Hospital, Cardiff University Hospital, Wales, while he waited in the gym after his injection.

Cook, who was one of the first to sign a contract with Covid-19 at his workplace in March, said morale in his department was low after months of fighting the pandemic.

Everyone is exhausted by the constant stress and demands placed on PRMs. But I hope we can get back to normal soon.

Write to James Marson at [email protected], Will Horner at [email protected] and Jared S. Hopkins at [email protected].

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