Critical Mission: Assuring Vaccines Become Vaccinations

In 2020, the entire world’s priority mission was to stop COVID-19 in its tracks. Sadly, by late December, more than 77 million people had become infected and 1.7 million had died, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

But thankfully, the new year has begun with much hope for brighter days ahead with the launch of both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the potential for a release of more than 250 additional vaccines across the globe.

Today, the virus-fighting mission has shifted to a new, different, and just as critical priority – “quick, efficient, and safe distribution” of tens of millions of doses of those life-saving vaccines and medical supplies to support the massive immunization of people on every continent on the planet.

At Ground Zero

Global logistics companies such as the Prime Group thus are now at “ground zero” in stopping the spread of the virus, by ensuring vaccines move door-to-door while maintaining their efficacy—from manufacturer to airport to the last mile.

And it’s an astounding task. According to Larry St. Onge, President of Life Sciences & Healthcare for DHL, the need for a stable cold-supply chain for both vaccines and medical suppliers is clearly the key. (Note: PrimeAir serves as the General Handling Agent for DHL Aviation in Ecuador.)

Pointing out that more than 10 billion doses will need to be delivered to all corners of the world within two years, he further estimates the need for 15 million deliveries in cooling boxes, 200,000 movements by pallet shippers, and 15,000 flights across the various supply chain setups.

Closer to home, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) projects that 30 million COVID-19 vaccine doses will be made available for distribution within the U.S. this month and another 50 million doses in February.

Prime Group’s vital role is to provide the best supply-chain transport and logistics possible to ensure vaccine doses intended for recipients across the globe get to the right places in a safe and timely manner. Ultimately, as a global community, the goal is to turn vaccines into vaccinations—and failure is not an option.

Cold Supply Chain

The cold chain is at the forefront of vaccine logistics. The coronavirus vaccines have strict temperature requirements that must be maintained throughout the supply chain. An important part of adhering to the requirements is ample freezer capacity and monitoring systems that ensure product temperatures don’t get too high or too low. These are service lines where Prime Group companies excel.

All across the globe, we are now handling multi-faceted, highly complex logistics and carefully mapping out the transportation of vaccine vial shipments from manufacturing sites to land-based transportation, onto airline and cargo flights, and into temperature-controlled holding facilities. From there, the vaccines await pick-up by delivery services on the local level for distribution to hospitals and clinics.

We know that no mission is more important. For every day that goes by without the maximum number of people being vaccinated, more lives are at risk. We are very grateful that we’re able to utilize our expertise in shipment and handling of cold-pack, perishable goods to help save lives and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

A Global Team Effort

We are also so appreciative of our industry partners, especially the major air cargo carriers whom we directly support such as Atlas Air, Emirates SkyCargo, DHL Aviation, and even Eastern Airlines.

The critical mission is clear. Vaccines cannot work if they don’t get into the hands of the right people—and quickly. We’re very proud to be doing our part.

Woman getting vaccine

Prime Logistics Is Suited up to Support Cold-Chain Distribution of Vaccines

With the addition of a fleet of all new temperature-controlled freezers at its MIA warehouse facility, Prime Logistics is doubling down its readiness to meet the pressing needs of customers serving the pharmaceuticals industry at a pivotal point in history. 

The company initially ramped up its freezer capacity in response to the soaring popularity of e-commerce distribution of frozen foods, as millions of consumers chose online shopping and delivery rather than leaving home. 

But of course, since the earliest days of the pandemic, Prime Logistics knew there would come a day when much more capacity would be needed to service the imminent release and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. That day has come.

In late November, as several pharmaceutical companies began releasing their pandemic fighting inoculations, it officially signaled to global shippers and handlers that their crucial role delivering coronavirus vaccines worldwide was now underway. 

Prepared & Ready

“The good news for Prime Logistics and our customers worldwide is that we’re ready,” says Omar Zambrano, the company’s chief operations officer.

“Between the new 400cbm capacity at MIA and the vast freezer space already in place at our consolidated freight stations at LAX and JFK, we are well positioned to safely store, stage, and transit highly-sensitive vaccines and other pharmaceuticals at a time when the world needs us most.”

Prime Logistics had in fact played a significant role in the distribution of vaccines in normal times through its well-established global time- and temperature-sensitive handling and distribution system. 

Says Prime Logistics Sales Manager Yulieth Onofre, “It is also important to point out, as demand heats up for temperature-controlled refrigerator and freezer units, our strategically positioned facilities have the available space to expand as greater capacity is needed.”

This addresses one of the biggest challenges facing the cold chain distribution process in delivering a temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccine. The supply of cold storage facilities is woefully outdated, at least in the U.S., so there is greater need for back-up modernized facilities, such as that which Prime Logistics has to offer.

According to a report from Supply Chain Dive, “Demand for cold storage has been on the incline for years as consumers have slowly adapted to shopping for groceries online, but the coronavirus shot that curve up sharply. So, even within a generally hot market, the supply side for highly desirable cold storage facilities is lagging.”

Onofre notes that maintaining supply chain integrity, from the starting point at the manufacturing site to finish, will require all parties to work together. Knowing that no single agency or entity can do this alone, Prime Logistics is aware of the urgency at hand and is ready to step up to do its part.

“This is where we clearly excel,” says Onofre. “With facilities, partners, and qualified agents all around the world, Prime Logistics is particularly experienced in the global management and delivery of temperature-sensitive products anywhere in the world.”

Every party realizes that supporting the global effort at vaccinating everybody in the country and across the world is going to be a phenomenal logistical feat. Knowing this, Onofre adds, “We absolutely have zero margin for failure. We are going to get this right.”

Information & Control 

Getting it right also means maintaining the integrity of the product from source to destination and every point in between. Beyond the challenge of physically transporting the vaccine across America and internationally, there is the additional obstacle of monitoring deliveries for theft.

This sudden burst of activity and demand, as vaccine producers are now ready to ship, will no doubt create openings for providers of transportation and warehouse facilities that may have poor security practices. The rush to market with large quantities of the inoculation will make it difficult for manufacturers to vet all their suppliers.

Not a problem for Prime Logistics, however, with its reputation for being one of the most professional and trustworthy providers on the industry. Its solid reliance on enhanced state-of-the-art inventory tracking and product monitoring technologies not only serves to answer the customer’s most basic questions—where is my shipment and when will it arrive?—but also adds the much needed element of security. 

Charter Operations

One other important service area where Prime Logistics excels is in the delivery of time- and temperature-sensitive products via its air cargo charter division.

Not only does the company enjoy long-time relationships with some of the world’s largest and most reliable air cargo carriers, Prime Logistics also has proven expertise in managing ad-hoc cargo charter operations. This also well-positions Prime Logistics to step up for its many customers in expediting vaccines and other pharmaceutical products when and where they are needed most.

Zambrano says it’s clear there is going to be an unprecedented demand for cargo space, far greater than there was for PPE at the advent of the pandemic. “Just as Prime Logistics pivoted and performed for our customers then, we’re on hot standby to manage charter flight operations as needed for this next round,” he said.

About Prime Logistics

Prime Logistics benefits from being part of the Prime Group, a network of coordinated cargo and freight specialists with offices and representatives worldwide. Based in Miami, the company has 20 years of expertise working with perishables and pharmaceuticals—two very specialized industries that demand intense attention to detail and infallible transportation solutions at a moment’s notice.

 For information, call 305-592-2044 or visit www.primelogisticsgroup.com

A Season to Be Grateful During a Year Like No Other

This holiday season is unlike any other, coming at the end of a year like no other. I am inspired to reflect on how fortunate we are to have made it this far, and I am thankful for those who helped us get here.

The COVID-19 pandemic created such unimaginable and unprecedented pressures on worldwide commerce, especially upon those of us that are part of the global supply chain.

Naturally, we were very concerned that the perishables industry, historically Prime Group’s core business, was so hard hit when the pandemic started. Yet when we were called upon in the earliest days of the crisis to support the massive demand for PPE and other medical supplies, it was due to our vast experience in handing time-sensitive products that we were able to respond so quickly—and with great success.

I am so grateful that we had the flexibility and know-how to be able to step up to deliver these life-sustaining materials to people all across the world in their greatest time of need. I am also extremely thankful to the Prime Group employees who made it possible for us to do so—and so proud of every single one of them.

Mission Focused

Not to say we didn’t also focus on ways by which we could support our long-time commitments in South America, because it was crucial that we did that too. Once the worldwide lockdowns and border restrictions were lifted, and the fields in Ecuador and Colombia began producing fresh flowers, fruit, and produce again, reality set in. The word’s cargo capacity at that point was being deployed to distribute essential medical goods only. So our mission here was to find solutions to get our customers’ fresh products out of country and to market.

Suffice to say, our people burned the candle at both ends to address this bottleneck situation. We not only introduced innovative solutions, such as a Sea-Air service to move product, but we also worked closely with our major air carrier partners to bring passenger freighters into the market. I am so grateful for their willingness and ability to step up—so too are the people of Ecuador and Colombia that desperately needed to keep local commerce alive.

Next Steps

Prime Group is made up of professionals who know how to act fast on their feet. Through their creative thinking, innate agility, and commitment to our customers, we were not only able to survive those darkest days, but to reposition the company to go forward.

The next phase of the global fight against the spread of COVID-19 is massive distribution of vaccines, medicines, and related supplies. This will continue well into 2021 and beyond. I am so grateful we made it through the storm and will be able to keep doing our part for the health of the world.

Miles to Go

Though we are moving into a new and better year ahead, my concern for the safety of our customers, our employees, our company—and the world—is still top of mind. After all, we have many hurdles and responsibilities to fulfill before the last chapter of this pandemic closes. Or to paraphrase the immortal words of Robert Frost, we have miles to go before we sleep.

This holiday season, all of us here at Prime Group wish you moments of peace amid the difficulties, connections with family and friends even if they can’t be in person, and the warmth of memories from holidays past.

Stay safe and healthy!