Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) is planning to go alone to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in the US once the FDA approves it instead of distributing it through the designated government coordinator. Officials have questioned whether there is an adequate supply of medical-grade freezers in the US at the point of use for vaccines that need storages at very low temperatures.
Pfizer will not use government vaccine distribution channel
In August CDC tasked McKesson Corp to be the main distributor of COVID-19 vaccines and related supplies required to administer vaccines. Vaccine manufacturers are expected to distribute approved vaccines to McKesson distribution centers where delivery to nursing homes, hospitals, and other administrative areas will be arranged.
However, Pfizer considers a different distribution plan and plans to distribute its vaccine to hospitals and end-users. The company will ship the vaccine directly from manufacturing facilities and warehouses through trusted logistics providers to end-users. The company’s VP for biopharma global supply chain Tanya Alcorn confirmed the plan in a webinar to the US chamber of commerce. She said that the company has been working with the government to ensure the model is successful.
Pfizer vaccine requires freezing
The company outlined its vaccine distribution plan last month centered on sites in Belgium and Michigan. Since the mRNA vaccine has to be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit, Pfizer plans to ship containers that can maintain the temperatures for 10 days. The company is also lining up more storage locations in Wisconsin and Germany.
A company spokesperson said that the agreed-upon distribution model is based on a flexible just-in-time system, which will result in the delivery of the frozen vaccine directly from the manufacturing plant to the vaccination point. Therefore the distribution will be directly from Kalamazoo to the point of use or from the Pleasant Prairie distribution center to vaccination points or equivalent locations. Pfizer has a contract with the US government to deliver 100 million vaccine doses once it is approved with the alternative to another 500 million doses.