Advances in Mexico’s COVID-19 Vaccine Logistics ChallengeBy Jorge Ramos Zwanziger | Thu, 11/26/2020 - 12:58
As the world gets ready for a COVID-19 vaccine, countries and organizations around the globe are making preparations to transport and deliver it. UNICEF recently celebrated its first online logistics event and, alongside the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), brought together over 350 logistics partners to discuss capacity requirements and ways to transport close to 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021 and the 1 billion syringes that need to be transported by sea-fright. “As work continues to develop COVID-19 vaccines, UNICEF is stepping up efforts with airlines, freight operators, shipping lines and other logistics associations to deliver life-saving vaccines as quickly and safely as possible,” said Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division. “The support of governments, partners and the private sector will be paramount to transport vaccines,” she continues.
The Mexico City government has started to work on the logistics for the vaccine’s distribution. “When we have the vaccine available, we will have everything ready,” said Claudia Sheinbaum, Mayor of Mexico City, reports WRadio. She also announced she will be meeting with the heads of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals to work on the logistics that will be applied. The first COVID-19 vaccines are expected to arrive in Mexico in December, but only if Pfizer’s project is approved by the US, reported MBN. “It is imminent that if it goes as we have said and the regulatory authority approves it, Mexico will start its process in December,” said Marcelo Ebrard, Minister of Foreign Affairs (SRE), earlier this week.
What is the challenge? As reported by MBN, Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored between -70°C and -80°C for up to 6 months or in specially designed shipping containers, called dry ice packs, for a maximum of 10 days. Cristian Morales, a representative of the World Health Organization Mexico, told Forbes Mexico “there is no country that has the installed capacity, at the moment, to ensure such a cold supply chain.” This is a particular challenge for a country as large as Mexico. The country has signed agreements with three pharmaceutical companies: Pfizer, Cansino Biologies and AstraZeneca. The last one produced a vaccine that can be transported at normal refrigerated conditions, which, if approved by the COFEPRIS, could be good news for Mexico.