The Department of Transportation has taken steps to ensure the rapid deployment of the soon-to-be-available coronavirus vaccines across the country.
Pfizer and Moderna have both submitted requests for emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccines and while the FDA hasn’t approved the vaccines yet, the U.K. became the first to approve the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech Wednesday.
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Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Department of Transportation is preparing to ensure swift transport of a vaccine. In a press release on Tuesday, the department said “all of its necessary regulatory measures have been taken for the safe, rapid transportation of the coronavirus … vaccine by land and air,” adding that the department is prepared for the “immediate mass shipment” of the vaccine” following the “unprecedented pace of vaccine development through Operation warp Speed.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in the release that DOT has laid the groundwork for the shipment of the vaccines and “is proud to support this historic endeavor.”
DOT and Operation Warp Speed officials have been coordinating over the past several weeks with private companies that will ship the vaccines from manufacturing facilities to distribution centers and immunization sites, establishing all appropriate safety requirements for potential hazards, including dry ice and lithium batteries.
The department has been working since October to “support the safe and expedited transportation and distribution of approved COVID-19 vaccines,” according to the release. DOT formed the FAA COVID-19 Vaccine Air Transport Team and has been working to “ensure the safe transportation of hazardous materials.”
A COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech is expected to be approved in the U.S. in the coming weeks and be shipping to states beginning in mid-December.