UPS heralds partnership with Novavax for vaccine distribution and delivery efforts

Atlanta-based global transportation and logistics services provider UPS recently announced it has formed a partnership with Novavax, a global biotech company, focused on the distribution and delivery of Novavax’ recently-approved COVID-19 vaccine to 27 European Union countries.

UPS said that the new vaccine is another weapon in the global fight against COVID-19. And it explained that because it does not require ultra-cold refrigeration, it can be more easily delivered to remote and rural areas that don’t have cold chain facilities. What’s more, the company added that UPS Healthcare’s European Network has been keenly focused on vaccine delivery efforts, with UPS having delivered more than 1 billion doses with 99.9% on-time delivery in more than 110 countries.

“UPS is proud to partner with Novavax to distribute its COVID-19 vaccine in the European Union and beyond,” said Wes Wheeler, president of UPS Healthcare, in a statement. “The extensive infrastructure UPS Healthcare has built in the European Union to handle temperature-sensitive products will make this life-saving vaccine and other needed healthcare products quickly available to hundreds of millions of people.”

A UPS spokesperson provided LM Group News Editor Jeff Berman an overview of the company’s partnership with Novavax in the Q&A below.

LM: How long have UPS and Novavax been working together and what led to the partnership? AS a follow-up, what are the main benefits of this partnership for UPS’s customers?

UPS: We’ve been supporting Novavax since the start of its vaccine journey—which was its first commercial product after spending the majority of their history as an R&D-focused firm.

They saw that we could support the organization through initial clinical trials and also take its vaccine from the lab to the patient’s arms—greatly simplifying the process for them. To give you some context, through our UPS Healthcare subsidiary, Marken, we have supported more than 130 COVID-19 vaccine-related clinical trials to date—including nearly all vaccines and treatments in development and use today.

By collaborating so closely, we’re able to understand each vaccine or treatment’s specific needs and plan the transport networks well in advance—allowing us to ship them globally as soon as they were approved. 

Once the Novavax vaccines were reviewed, approved, and ready to ship, UPS Healthcare provided access to over 500 newly mapped out trade lanes globally, as well new air and ground routes—essential for the transport of time-critical and temperature-sensitive vaccines. While in transit, the vaccine shipments are monitored 24/7 by three global 24/7 UPS Healthcare Command Centers, dedicated to ensuring on-time delivery, with contingency plans and solutions to mitigate the risks of extreme weather and other obstacles. 

We’re also investing in the latest technology. Last year we rolled out our UPS Premier service in Europe. As a technology-enabled express delivery service, this product upgrades small packages with advanced sensor technology and ensures a priority lane and tracking to within 10 feet of their location in our global network.

All in all, this meant we’ve been able to deliver well over 1.2 billion vaccines, from all partner providers, to over 100 countries at 99.9% on-time delivery—a level of service we should all aspire to industry-wide. 

LM: Can you provide a basic overview of the UPS healthcare network in the EU and how it is being leveraged to handle temperature-sensitive products?

UPS: When you look to the future of healthcare, it’s all about innovations in biologics, specialty pharmaceuticals, and personalized medicine. These products make up the majority of the new products in development and are driving significant demand for precision logistics for what are patient-critical, time-and temperature-sensitive products.

We’ve been investing in a network to meet those needs for a long time, building out a ‘network within a network’ to make sure we provide the best quality healthcare service on the market. Our European Healthcare hub is run out of Roermond in the Netherlands, the facility is close to UPS’s European air hub at Cologne Bonn Airport, and has direct access to major ports, including Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Amsterdam, allowing for short transit times across the world and next-day delivery to 80% of Europe. The hub is acting as our central distribution point for the Novavax vaccines.

Alongside this hub, we have an existing presence in some of the largest and quickest growing healthcare markets in the world, including the UK, Czech Republic, Spain, Poland, and Hungary. All give us giving us key pathways across the region to support traditional, fast-growing organizations and their customers.

As part of our aggressive global expansion strategy, we’ve also just announced and will shortly bring online new facilities, including in Rome, Blonie (PL), as well as our first dedicated Healthcare facility in Giessen, Germany. This adds to the new and upgraded facilities in Ostrava (CZ), Budapest (HU), and Roermond (NL) that were completed last year. These state-of-the-art facilities will include multiple controlled temperature environments for healthcare products requiring -20C to -80C, 2C to 8C, and 15C to 25C storage.

We’re also expanding our cold chain transportation services across the continent. These vehicles are capable of supporting transport healthcare products in temperature-controlled environments and offer next-day, GDP-compliant delivery for hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, laboratories, and doctors that are all increasingly relying on time-critical and temperature-sensitive treatments for their patients.  We’ve recently added these services to Belgium and certain regions in Italy, which complement our existing services in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Hungary, the UK, and Poland.  

LM: What are the main competitive advantages/benefits of this partnership from a UPS perspective?

UPS: The global market for biologic drugs (like vaccines) is set to increase from $285.5 billion in 2020 to $421.8 billion by 2025—the opportunity is huge. As you can see through our partnership with Novavax, we can truly offer a one-stop-shop solution for our customers. From trials, manufacturing to last-mile delivery we have the expertise, scale, and quality network to support what is needed now and well into the future.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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