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IATA issues vaccine guidance

[ November 16, 2020   //   ]

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released  new guidance for the handling, transport and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. Produced with the support of a number of partners, including the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), it includes international standards and guidelines for the transport of vaccines and will be updated regularly as information is made available to the industry.

IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said: “Delivering billions of doses of a vaccine that must be transported and stored in a deep-frozen state to the entire world efficiently will involve hugely complex logistical challenges across the supply chain.  While the immediate challenge is the implementation of COVID-19 testing measures to re-open borders without quarantine, we must be prepared for when a vaccine is ready.  This guidance material is an important part of those preparations.”

Key challenges addressed include the availability of temperature-controlled storage facilities and contingencies when such facilities are not available

IATA points out that the first vaccine manufacturer to apply for regulatory approval requires the vaccine to be shipped and stored in a deep-frozen state, making ultra-cold chain facilities across the supply chain essential. Some types of refrigerants are classified as a dangerous goods and volumes are regulated which adds an additional layer of complexity.  

It adds that timely regulatory approvals and storage and clearance by customs and health authorities will be essential. Arrangements must also be in place to ensure that shipments remain secure from tampering and theft. Processes are in place already, but the huge volume of vaccine shipments will require early planning to ensure that they are scalable. 

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