PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — At Philadelphia International Airport, giant refrigerated containers are prepped and ready to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the vaccine next week.
The vaccines will be transported in suitcase-sized containers filled with dry ice that can only be opened twice a day, lasting for a maximum of two weeks. The shots need to be stored at minus-70 degrees Celsius or below to avoid spoiling.
“It runs on batteries so while it’s in transit it’s able to regulate that temperature. What’s really important with these containers is you have the capability to plug them in when they’re not actually in transit, so when they’re sitting in a warehouse,” Roger Samways, vice president of commercial cargo with American Airlines, said. We’ve got capability here to plug in 50 containers at any one time.”
The first shipment of the vaccines is expected to cover the inoculations of 3.2 million Americans.
Subsequent vaccine distributions could cover seven to 10 million people per week if the Moderna vaccine is also approved by the FDA in December.
Friday was the deadline for states to submit requests and plans for the first doses of a COVID vaccine that could be available as early as Dec. 11.
The FDA review will begin on Thursday and many are expecting quick action.
There is a lot of intense planning underway right now in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware about where the vaccine goes and who gets the first shots.
“Several New Jersey hospitals are prepositioning to receive the first shipments of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
Murphy says New Jersey is expecting to receive the first 76,000 doses of a COVID vaccine as soon as it’s cleared by the FDA and half-a-million by the end of the year.
“The light on the other side of this pandemic is real,” Murphy said. “It is now becoming visible and this is a game changer.”
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