Cool logistics chains at sea will soon take over the job of delivering Covid-19 vaccines from airfreight, which is not only costly but also cannot carry the capacity necessary to deliver vaccines en mass.
Maersk Line has signed up as one of the Covax distributors, an alliance of groups that will distribute the vaccines globally. Up to now these vaccines have been produced at factories in the US, India and Europe and delivered over long distances by air and by truck.
However, Hristo Petkov, AP Moller – Maersk’s global head of pharmaceuticals, told Container News, “You have to look beyond the punchy headlines, global ocean shipping already plays an important role in transporting pharmaceutical products, so it’s not about if the vaccines move by sea, but rather it’s about when this will happen.”
Petkov believes this would be highly dependent on the amount of vaccines approved in the next two-three months, and the mass production capacity of these vaccines.
Aircraft and trucks deliver most of the vaccines today, with small exceptions, but once production capacity exceeds immediate demand, you will see vaccines in ocean temperature-controlled containers going into Africa, Latin America, and Asia, explained Petkov.
He went on to say the technical knowhow has already been developed for ocean-based logistics chains to deliver pharmaceutical products, with container equipment that can maintain temperatures as low as -20degs C, and with pressure from the pharma companies to reduce costs the switch to seafreight is inevitable.