FedEx, Blue Dart geared for Covid vaccine delivery challenge
As India launches its Covid-19 vaccination program, the role of express delivery companies like FedEx and Blue Dart from the origin to the destination of the vaccine will be crucial. And they are fully prepared to take on the great challenge that lies ahead.
Speed is the essence of vaccine logistics and it is the express operators who can deliver as they have the skills, process and infrastructure, said B Govindarajan, chief operating officer of Tirwin Management Services (P) Ltd, an in Chennai-based aviation consultancy.
Jack Muhs, regional president of FedEx Express Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa, said vaccine distribution was a complex logistical effort and FedEx was part of the process. The requirements and rules for the transport and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines vary depending on the composition of the vaccines. Vaccine manufacturers and governments will set specific distribution strategies. It is FedEx’s job to get these vaccines safely and efficiently to their final delivery location.
FedEx adds ultra-low temperature storage at key gateway locations and installs the required low temperature freezers at FedEx gateways in Delhi and Bengaluru.
“We have the experience and the network readiness to move these shipments within and around key locations across India. We are also placing cool boxes in strategic locations across India and will have access to warehouses and vehicles with cold store capacity for long-distance transportation upon request, he said. FedEx has supplied active ingredients to manufacturers to aid vaccine development, and its solutions meet government and pharmaceutical manufacturers’ needs for transportation and distribution. It is working with healthcare customers, along with government officials and regulators, to prepare for the vaccines to be shipped once they are approved and ready, he said.
According to Ketan Kulkarni, CMO and Head Business Development, Blue Dart, an effective cooling and logistics system for vaccines, including storage and transport, is the core of all vaccination programs.
Blue Dart has shipped vaccines, clinical samples and many other medical products for various pharmaceutical vaccine manufacturers. “We are actively working with pharmaceutical companies to meet their express logistics needs through our TCL (Temperature Controlled Logistics) services,” he said.
According to Kulkarni, Blue Dart has specialized experts in life science solutions and has already done background work on the capacity requirements – materials for packaging, availability of data loggers, insulated shippers, walk-in cold rooms, coolants, network reach, staff availability and technology investment to meet requirements cope in that direction. It also has both single-use packaging that can provide 48-72 hour temperature stability and multi-purpose packaging that can provide 96 hour temperature stability, he said.
Blue Dart already has the operational experience and specialized infrastructure necessary to handle biomedical shipments. “We have our own fleet of six Boeing 757 freighters, more than 20,000 ground vehicles serving more than 34,000 locations, and a strong army of Blue Darters,” he said.