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United Airlines flying Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

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FILE – In this July 18, 2018, file photo a United Airlines commercial jet sits at a gate at Terminal C of Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. United Airlines plans to furlough about 16,000 employees in October 2020 as air travel continues to be hammered by the pandemic. That’s fewer furloughs than United predicted in July, when it warned 36,000 employees that they could lose their jobs. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

(FOX) — United Airlines Holdings Inc., reportedly began operating charter flights on Friday to better position Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for distribution once the inoculation is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

United will fly the chartered planes between Brussels International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport as part of the “first mass air shipment of a vaccine,” supported by the FAA, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The news of securing the charter flights comes as Pfizer has started to lay the foundation to move the vaccine quickly once the FDA and other regulators approve it.

According to the Journal, Pfizer has expanded storage capacity at specific distribution sites in Pleasant Prairie, Wisc., and Karlsruhe, Germany. The drug company plans to use suitcase-size frozen storage in cargo planes and trucks to distribute the vaccine around the world.

Pfizer and United Airlines did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

United Airlines will be allowed to carry five times the amount of dry ice normally permitted on board to keep the vaccine at the necessary cold temperature.

Other cargo and passenger airlines have also begun preparing for future vaccine shipments, the Journal reported.

Previously, Andrew Peterson, assistant professor of philosophy at George Mason University had brought up the complex issue of transporting and distributing the vaccine due to the fact it must be stored at temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius or below.

“The logistics of distributing the Pfizer vaccine, if proven to be safe and effective, will no doubt be a Herculean task,” Peterson told Fox News. “Beyond the challenge of physically transporting the vaccine by air and land to distribution centers across America and internationally, there are the additional obstacles of keeping the vaccine at sub-zero temperatures and monitoring deliveries for theft.”

Last week, Pfizer and partner BioNTech requested an emergency approval for their coronavirus vaccine candidate in a bid to get it out to the global population as soon as possible.

The vaccine has been called more than 90 percent effective in percent effective at stopping people from getting sick during phase 3 trials.

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