Airlines preparing to deliver COVID-19 when ready for distribution


American Airlines “successfully moved” the heat pack during a test drive.

There is no approved COVID-19 vaccine yet, but it is already being distributed – including extreme temperature requirements.

That includes a test of “thermal packaging for a big pharmaceutical company,” CEO Doug Parker said in a LinkedIn post earlier this week.

The flight did not contain any doses of vaccine, an ABC News spokesman confirmed.

Parker said the airline “successfully removed” the company’s thermal packaging last week, which has not been identified.

Pfizer and BioNTech were the first to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Distributing their vaccines is a potential challenge: It must be kept at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit – much colder than a typical freezer can accommodate.

Because of these temperature requirements, the company supplies doses of vaccine in special, temperature-controlled, dry ice-packed thermal boxes.

American Airlines said in a statement to ABC News that it had established a “network of team members specializing in temperature-critical shipments” and would work with the Federal Aviation Authority on “regulations governing dry ice shipments.”

The use of cargo and commercial carriers will allow the vaccine to be “distributed as quickly as possible,” Parker said.

United Airlines is also preparing to “support vaccine distribution efforts globally,” a spokesman said in a statement to ABC News.

The company is ready to “safely and effectively support” the vaccine delivery needs of its pharmaceutical customers, the spokesman said.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the airline has begun flying the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they will be ready to distribute the vaccine within a few hours of approval.

Representatives of the companies will meet with the FDA on Dec. 10, followed by a proposal from an independent advisory board for licensing.

The Moderna candidate is likely to be among the first vaccines to be awarded. Earlier this month, the company announced that, according to initial Phase 3 data, the vaccine was 94.5% effective.

Gustave Perna, of the Trump Administration’s Warp Speed ​​vaccination program, told ABC News this week that vaccinations will be on the streets in communities only 24 hours after FDA approval.

U.S. officials say seniors and health care providers will offer the first vaccination.

ABC News Amanda Maile contributed to the report.