Anticipating FDA-approval, Pfizer charters flights for COVID vaccines, says report

Nov. 30, 2020

United Airlines began operating charter flights to position doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for quick distribution if granted approval by regulators, according to Wall Street Journal sources.

Pfizer submitted its EUA request to the FDA last week. The EUA submission included efficacy data from the total 170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 accrued in drugmaker's phase 3 trial, and safety data from a randomized subset of at least 8,000 participants 18 years and older. Data has also been collected from approximately 19,000 trial participants who have been followed for a median of two months following the second and final dose of the vaccine candidate as well as data on manufacturing processes.

While Pfizer spokespeople declined to comment on United’s role in the plan, the FAA offered a statement to the press on Friday which said "As a result of the historic pace of vaccine development through Operation Warp Speed and careful logistics planning, the FAA today is supporting the first mass air shipment of a vaccine."

According to a Nov. 24 letter from the FAA viewed by The Wall Street Journal, United plans to fly chartered cargo flights between Brussels International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport to support distribution of the vaccine.

Pfizer’s distribution plan also includes refrigerated storage sites at the drugmaker’s final-assembly centers in Kalamazoo, Mich., and Puurs, Belgium, and expanding storage capacity at distribution sites in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., and in Karlsruhe, Germany.