- XPO's expedited transportation fleet began deliveries of Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine last week in support of Operation Warp Speed, XPO said in a news release on Friday.
- The company's assistance comes mostly in North America but also in Europe, according to XPO officials. XPO has cold-chain logistics operations and is using its expedited-shipment arm to get vaccines to air hubs, distribution centers and cold-storage facilities, as well as "final destination" shipments to major urban areas and to vaccination sites.
- Most of the vaccine will be distributed via FedEx and UPS in small packages for next-day delivery, according to Joseph Checkler, XPO's vice president of public relations and social media. "But there's so much more work to be done across the supply chain to make sure the rollout goes as smoothly as possible," Checkler said. The company has experience transporting temperature-sensitive vaccines and medicines, Checkler said.
Vaccine distribution in the United States would initially involve UPS, FedEx and DHL, Pfizer said in November. Vaccines began rolling out of the Pfizer plant on Dec. 13, and, by then, other transport companies, including Massachusetts-based Boyle Transportation, were there to assist.
XPO is adding services as Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies communicate their needs, Checkler said.
"It keeps evolving," said Checkler. "We keep getting more work ... Our role in helping with the distribution of the vaccine is evolving in real time as we learn more from pharmaceutical companies about what's needed."
Checkler said the whole process of moving the Pfizer vaccine involves a large network of pharmaceutical, distribution and transport companies. And the vaccination process means more than just vaccines. Swabs, syringes and other items are needed, Checkler said.
XPO is helping in shipping vaccine-related items for companies, such as dry ice, containers and syringes. And there is big demand for items related to COVID-19 treatment and mitigation, such as medicines, cough syrups and personal protective equipment, Checkler said.
Checkler said the carrier was contacted by Pfizer and other companies because it has a fleet of temperature-validated trucks, with validation devices to ensure temperature control, as well as clean air environments for transporting vaccines. The company's vaccine-hauling reputation helped it get the work, Checkler said, as did its XPO Connect software, which can track trucks in real-time.
"We've had experience for years transporting vaccines," said Checkler. "We're able to provide customers with real-time visibility into freight status, up-to-the-minute delivery tracking, and suggestions for more cost-effective and faster transport. We have our eyes on every truck."
XPO said it is prepared to assist other vaccine efforts. On Friday, Moderna was approved to distribute its COVID-19 vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Sunday that drivers be behind other essential workers, such as those in manufacturing. When drivers will get vaccinated is not clear.