From Testing To Distribution: The Logistics Behind COVID-19 Vaccines

Nov 18, 2020
Originally published on November 19, 2020 3:28 pm

Early data shows that two COVID-19 vaccines are over 90% effective. So what’s next? We follow the vaccine’s journey from testing to public distribution.


Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, medical director for immunizations for the Arkansas Department of Health. (@ADHPIO)

Julie Swann, professor of industrial and systems engineering at North Carolina State University. (@jlswann)

Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventative medicine, infectious disease and immunization policy at Vanderbilt University. (@VUMChealth)

Photo Highlights

What’s one of the biggest obstacles of vaccine development? Keeping the vaccines cold as they’re transported and stored. The Moderna vaccine must be kept at negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit – your freezer could probably do that. And the Pfizer vaccine must be kept at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit – that’s Antarctic winter cold.

In these photos, we get a peak into how Direct Relief, a humanitarian medical organization, pulls off ultra-cold chain distribution.

From The Reading List

New York Times: “New Pfizer Results: Coronavirus Vaccine Is Safe and 95% Effective” — “The data showed that the vaccine prevented mild and severe forms of Covid-19, the company said. And it was 94 percent effective in older adults, who are more vulnerable to developing severe Covid-19 and who do not respond strongly to some types of vaccines.”

The Guardian: “Here Are The Major Hurdles Ahead For COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution In The US” — “Nearly a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, a picture of the other side is emerging. There has been positive news from leading vaccine manufacturers and they are beginning to analyze phase III clinical data, an important milestone which could tell researchers about whether they are safe and effective.”

New York Times: “Early Data Show Moderna’s Coronavirus Vaccine Is 94.5% Effective” — “The drugmaker Moderna announced on Monday that its coronavirus vaccine was 94.5 percent effective, joining Pfizer as a front-runner in the global race to contain a raging pandemic that has killed 1.2 million people worldwide.”

New York Times: “Missing From State Plans to Distribute the Coronavirus Vaccine: Money to Do It” — “With the prospect that a coronavirus vaccine will become available for emergency use as soon as next month, states and cities are warning that distributing the shots to an anxious public could be hindered by inadequate technology, severe funding shortfalls and a lack of trained personnel.”

Washington Post: “WHO Tempers Prospect Of A Coronavirus Vaccine With Warning Of A Long Fight To Come” — “The world welcomed with relief biotechnology firm Moderna’s announcement Monday that initial results suggested its coronavirus vaccine candidate was nearly 95 percent effective at preventing the illness. Markets soared on the promising news.”

POLITICO: “There Are 2 Effective COVID-19 Vaccines. What’s Next?” — “The news Monday that a second coronavirus vaccine has proven more than 90 percent effective in late-stage trials could be a game-changer, but the hard work isn’t over.”

NBC News: “Pfizer Readies ‘Herculean Effort’ To Distribute Coronavirus Vaccine” — “Pfizer is marshaling a massive new cold-storage supply chain to handle the delicate dance of transporting limited doses of its coronavirus vaccine from manufacturer to any point of use within two days.”

The Daily Beast: “I Was A Military COVID Planner. The Vaccine Rollout Is Going To Be A Nightmare.” — “No matter how you feel about Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race and his touted plans to embrace science over magical thinking in fighting the coronavirus, we’re stuck with a simple reality.”

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