For the proper preservation of some announced Covid-19 vaccines, a temperature of around freezing is sufficient, for others -20 degrees Celsius is indicated, but some vaccines need -70 degrees. The necessary infrastructure has recently been set up at Zaventem airport.
In collaboration with airport manager Brussels Airport, Air Cargo Belgium and Hazgo Swissport demonstrated how it will handle the vaccines logistically at its Brussels Pharma Center. That is a refrigerated storage facility of 3,620 square metres, which is part of an uninterrupted refrigerator.
During the transportation dry ice is used to keep the temperature sufficiently low. Dry ice is CO2 in solid form. It looks like snow. Dry ice does not melt into liquid, but passes directly from its solid form into gas form. The escaping gas drains heat. In order to keep refrigerated products long enough, it is therefore necessary to sometimes add extra dry ice. Brussels Airport consumes up to 20 tonnes of dry ice per day, depending on the season.
Suitable vehicles will be used for the transport of such refrigerated materials at the airport. For the Covid-19 vaccines, continuous cold chains of about ten days are counted.
The availability of adequate refrigeration facilities for the vaccines in Brussels is very important. Because Belgium not only expects 16 million doses for its own population, it also wants to play a role as a European hub. The European Union has already ordered 300 million doses. It is even more important because Pfizer has already announced that it will produce its vaccine in two places. One of them is his site in the Belgian Puurs, just over 30 kilometers from the airport. At Brussels Airport, pharmaceutical products already account for 8% of air cargo volumes.
The first vaccines were due to arrive in a few weeks, but large volumes are not expected until the spring of 2021.
Swissport has 115 storage sites worldwide. 72 of these are equipped with cooling facilities and 13 have official recognition for the logistical treatment of pharmaceutical products.