The first trucks carrying the COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use in the United States are ready to leave the plant in Michigan on Sunday. The vaccines, which are critical to stopping the country’s coronavirus outbreak, should reach the states within a few days.
Deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine will set in motion the biggest vaccination effort in American history at a critical time in a pandemic that has killed 1.6 million people and sickened 71 million. About 3 million doses were originally expected to be sent in the first batch, and priority will be given to health workers and residents of nursing homes, as infections, hospitalisations and deaths are skyrocketing among them in the US.
Federal officials say the first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine will be sent in phases and will arrive at 145 distribution centres on Monday, with another 425 centres receiving deliveries on Tuesday and the remaining 66 on Wednesday. The vaccine, jointly developed by German partner BioNTech, is being distributed according to each state’s population.
The vaccine is being sent to hospitals and other locations where it can be stored at extremely low temperatures. Pfizer uses containers of dry ice and GPS-enabled sensors to ensure each batch stays colder than the weather in Antarctica.
According to federal authorities, the doses should be delivered to all state-designated vaccination sites, such as local pharmacies, within three weeks.