The first batches of the Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19 are on their way to Britain in specially designed “pizza boxes” to stop doses going off.
The cold containers containing 1,000 doses per box will enable Uber Eats-style delivery of vaccines to care homes and vulnerable housebound residents.
The starting gun has been fired on the national task of vaccinating against the pandemic as the UK became the first Western country to approve a Covid-19 jab.
Britain is the first country to approve the Pfizer /BioNTech vaccine and the first dose could go into the first arm as soon as Monday.
Crucially the Pfizer jab must be stored at -70C and can be kept at standard refrigerator temperatures for just five days.
Maintaining this “cold chain” is vital to the logistical effort dubbed “like nothing seen in peacetime”.
The so-called pizza boxes may be transported by motorbike or grouped into 5,000-dose batches to be transported by van.
Pfizer would not say when the first batches will arrive in Britain and at which Government distribution centres.
Every batch will be tested before it is then sent out to hospitals and vaccination centres.
Ben Osborn, Pfizer’s UK country manager, said: “We are delivering right now as we speak from Belgium into the UK - that process has already begun.
“We anticipate that we will be providing some 800,000 doses or so in the coming days, ready for deployment next week by the NHS.”
He added: “We will be in a position to deliver millions of doses in the weeks ahead.”
Pfizer says that each batch of vaccine should be moved no more than four times.
Prof Ralf Rene Reinert, Pfizer vice president for scientific affairs, said: “If you move it four times, there is always the likelihood that you make a mistake.”
He added: “There might be problems we just see by introducing the vaccine and we are watching this very carefully.
“The UK is the first [country] so you also will be the first account problems and we will work on solutions.”