Need support importing vaccine-related medical devices?

3 Nov, 2020

Need support importing vaccine-related medical devices?

Preparations for the production and transport of a COVID-19 vaccine are now in full swing. To distribute a vaccine worldwide, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) thinks a capacity of about 8,000 Boeing 747s or equivalent is needed. A big job, for which preparations are now being made. IATA is working with airlines, airports, global health authorities and pharmaceutical companies on a global airlift plan.

The preparations go even further than just transporting the vaccine itself. Other medical devices also need to be in the right place at the right time. Consider, for example, capsules for additional medicines, injection needles, disinfection, gloves, mouth caps, guards and other (personal) protective materials.

Worldwide transport of great importance

Air freight has served as a global lifeline for the past several months, transporting personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical items around the world. Various organizations expect transport to certain parts of the world to remain of crucial importance (think of some parts of Southeast Asia, for example). These regions probably have insufficient capacity to produce vaccines. In addition, IATA states that spreading a vaccine across Africa is “impossible” at the moment. This is due to a lack of loading capacity, the size of the region and the complexity of border crossings. IATA has urged governments to plan carefully now to ensure they are fully prepared once vaccines are approved and available for distribution.

From its global locations, MOL Logistics offers various options to transport, store and distribute medical devices. This mainly concerns the additional PPE and medical devices that are required to safely administer the vaccine.

Do you have questions about transporting or distributing PPE or medical devices? Or about refrigerated / temperature controlled transport in your region? Then contact a MOL Logistics office near you.

Read more?

You can read an extensive article about transporting vaccines by air freight, among other things, via the IATA website.

Below you will find a short summary with five important conditions for the transport and distribution of vaccines and related medical devices.

Good preparation

Due to the volume and quantity of shipments, early planning seems necessary. Good preparation ensures that we can respond in time to specific requirements of the products and to work scalable and safely. That is why various organizations recommend that you start planning and preparations right now.

The right facilities

Vaccines must be handled and shipped according to international requirements, with controlled temperatures and without delay to ensure product quality. Although there are still many unknowns (including the number of doses, temperature sensitivities and the production locations), the scope of the logistics process seems enormous. Especially when it comes to the total supply and distribution of medical devices. By making use of a worldwide network of collaborating offices, agencies and partners, MOL Logistics contributes to a safe chain for the distribution of medical devices.

Safe transportation

Air freight plays a key role in the distribution of vaccines through established global time and temperature sensitive distribution systems. Together with other methods of (temperature-controlled) transport, this is indispensable for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines and the associated medical aids and protective equipment. Given the importance of distribution, all parties should contribute to safe transportation with regard to theft and handling of the shipments. This starts with the processes to keep freight shipments safe. Therefore, work as much as possible with reliable partners who meet the important certifications and quality marks such as ISO, AEO and IATA.

Sufficient capacity and speed

In addition to the necessary transport preparations and coordination, governments and organizations must also take into account the current reduced loading capacity of the global (air) transport industry. IATA warned that, with the severe downturn in passenger traffic, airlines have downsized their networks and long-term remote storage of many aircraft. WHO, UNICEF and Gavi have already reported serious difficulties in enforcing their planned vaccine programs during the COVID-19 crisis, partly due to limited air connections. Land transport can help with this, especially in developed economies with local production capacity.

Correct customs formalities

Working effectively with health and customs authorities seems essential to ensure timely regulatory approvals, adequate security measures, appropriate handling and of course the customs clearances themselves. This can become a particular challenge, as many governments, as part of COVID-19 prevention measures, have taken steps to increase turnaround times.

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