DHL Global Forwarding transports Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine into India for clinical trials

In a recent white paper, its parent Deutsche Post DHL said there would be a global requirement of 200,000 pallet shipments and 15 million deliveries in cooling boxes as well as 15,000 flights across various supply chain setups for the vaccine.

MUMBAI: DHL Global Forwarding India last week transported Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine into India for clinical trials, its CEO said.

The transportation was a lesson in planning, discipline, execution, time management and temperature control, Niki Frank told ET. This was almost a dry run for future mass deployment of the vaccine across the country.

A container of vials was carried onboard an Emirates aircraft - the first time a vaccine for coronavirus has been brought into India.


With this vaccine as any other, temperature control is the most critical bit, said Frank. The Sputnik was required to be stored at -20 degrees C while others, like the one being made by Pfizer and BioNTech, require a temperature below -80 degrees, he said.

The trials will be undertaken through a tie-up with Dr Reddy's Laboratories.

DHL

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Logistics companies draw up plans
The majority of the vaccines have to be stored between 2-8 degrees which is "relatively easier to maintain". But the Covid-19 vaccines have more stringent requirements. Also, there is no knowledge of how long they can be kept at normal ambient temperature.

"Everything, from the time a forklift takes to load a pallet from the manufacturing facility to the vehicle, to the time for which the vehicle has to stand on the tarmac and the duration taken for the pallets to be loaded onto the aircraft, must be closely calculated and monitored," said Frank.

The new challenge thrown up by the upcoming mammoth project of transporting the vaccine has sent most logistics companies back to their drawing boards.

Company executives are working out various scenarios depending on whether the vaccine is indigenously produced or imported, what temperature it should be stored in and how will the government plan and mandate last-mile deliveries.
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"Insufficient last-mile connectivity, cooling facilities in the final delivery stages and lack of storage at clinics would 'pose the biggest challenge' to delivering vaccines on a high scale," Abhijit Mitra of ICICI Securities wrote in a recent note.

In a recent white paper, Deutsche Post DHL said there would be a global requirement of 200,000 pallet shipments and 15 million deliveries in cooling boxes as well as 15,000 flights across various supply chain setups for the vaccine.
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Snowman Logistics, Deutsche Post DHL-owned Blue Dart Express, Allcargo Logistics and Mahindra Logistics are among the other logistics leaders that are gearing up to take on the mammoth task of transporting the vaccines across the country.

Snowman has reserved space for more than 10,000 pallets, which will hold 70 million doses of the vaccine, across all its locations, Blue Dart is constructing additional conditioning rooms across eight locations and Mahindra Logistics is looking at more tieups.

"DHL Express is also in talks with various stakeholders including pharma companies, suppliers, service providers and of course the government - which is likely to govern the last-mile transportation of the vaccine," RS Subramanian, senior vice president, DHL Express, told ET in a recent interview.

Snowman Logistics, DPDHL-owned Blue Dart Express, Allcargo Logistics and Mahindra Logistics are among the other logistics leaders that are gearing up to take on the mammoth task of transporting Covid-19 vaccines across the country.
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