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COVID-19 Vaccines For 8 Billion Would Fill 8,000 747 Freighters: Can The Airlines Help?

Photo Illustration from 2004 of EADS Airbus’ A380F freighter. A380F ws designed to carry a 150 … [+] tonnes over 10.400 km on its three decks. The freighter version of the superjumbo, double-decker A380 airliner, capable of carrying more than 500 passengers, it was ultimately not built due to cancellations from production delays. (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

2004 AFP

The airline industry has been a major beneficiary of the vaccine euphoria. First Pfizer, then Moderna announced vaccine candidates with a promised effectiveness of 90% or more. This excited investors and airline executives alike, with visions of pent-up demand creating packed planes with filled middle seats.

But before potential passengers can be vaccinated and set out on their long-delayed business and leisure journeys, several hurdles must be leapt. The vaccines must be approved by the FDA and other worldwide health regulatory bodies, and manufactured in numbers that can make a difference in ending a worldwide pandemic. Then the real fun begins: the logistics challenge of transporting the vaccines around the United States and the world.

How big a challenge? According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), “providing a single dose to 7.8 billion people would fill 8,000 747 cargo aircraft.” Meanwhile, the Pfizer vaccine apparently requires two doses to be effective.

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