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Airfreight conference to explore Covid-19 vaccine challenge

THIS week's digital Air Freight Conference organised by the ProMedia Group, to held on December 17-18, is to examine how the air cargo industry can meet the challenge of distributing the Covid-19 vaccine

15 December 2020 - 19:00
THIS week's digital Air Freight Conference organised by the ProMedia Group, to held on December 17-18, is to examine how the air cargo industry can meet the challenge of distributing the Covid-19 vaccine.

Developing the Covid-19 vaccine is only the first step in battling the pandemic. The next is distribution of the wide variety of vaccines set to be transported around the globe in the upcoming months.



'This sets the world of logistics for a great challenge. Solving this puzzle will be the topic of the multi-stage online Air Freight Conference,' said ProMedia Group.



Meanwhile, the US Federal Aviation Administration (F) has issued guidelines in the handling of dry ice alert to airlines carrying vaccines to mitigate carbon dioxide poison risk for crews.



THE F cautioned commercial aircraft operators to pay close attention to the risk of carrying too much dry ice in the cargo hold, reports London's Air Cargo News.



'Operators may plan to carry dry ice quantities larger than quantities they may carry during typical operations. This volume of dry ice may present risks that existing mitigations do not adequately address,' the agency said in a safety alert.



The reason for the F's concern is that dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide. Increasing the volume of dry ice may present risks that existing mitigations do not adequately address.



Many COVID vaccine shipments kept at ultra-cold temperatures will require more dry ice to maintain safety and efficacy. That is especially true for the product developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, which must be kept at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 Celsius). A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recently recommended the agency grant the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine emergency use authorisation.



A vaccine from Moderna Inc has temperature requirements of minus four degrees Fahrenheit.



By comparison, the typical seasonal flu vaccine is preserved at 35 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to 8 degrees C) - the temperature range for refrigerators.



Vaccines moving by air are typically packed in large insulated containers with compartments for dry ice, although some types of equipment use battery-powered refrigeration systems instead.



Dry ice breaks down and transitions to a gas at temperatures higher than minus 108 F (minus 78 C) under normal atmospheric conditions. At reduced pressures, like those in an airplane cabin, the sublimation rate of dry ice will increase. The risk is that gaseous carbon dioxide will replace oxygen in the aircraft compartments and interfere with the crew's ability to breathe. High levels of carbon dioxide can impair cognitive function and lead to asphyxiation, a concern for ground handling crews as well.



'Make sure all air conditioning packs and auxiliary power units are fully operational to enable effective ventilation for ground operations and inflight contingencies. Install carbon dioxide sensors or have crew wear them to detect hazardous concentrations of the gas,' the F added.


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