Correo Uruguayo has started its operations to provide traceability and manage reverse logistics for thermally controlled boxes containing the Pfizer–BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine.
Operations commenced on the afternoon of Wednesday, 10 March 2021, hours before the first batch of Pfizer–BioNtech COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the country. The process began at va-Q-tec facilities with the first thermal boxes being loaded into Correo Uruguayo vans. The activity was attended by the Operational (Processes, Collection and Distribution) Coordination Manager for the South Zone of Correo Uruguayo, Mr Raúl Sánchez, and the President of va-Q-tec, Mr Edgardo Ipar.
Details of the operations
Correo Uruguayo’s operations manage the transfer of the va-Q-tec thermal boxes from the Montevideo Free Zone (ZFM) to the Uruguay Cargo Terminal (TCU). The boxes are thermal containers designed to control temperature and thus maintain the vaccines in the required conditions. At the TCU, once the vaccines have been packed inside the boxes, the Uruguayan Air Force transports them to the interior of the country. In parallel, in order to ensure the timely processing of all vaccines, Correo Uruguayo returns the thermal boxes on a daily basis from various parts of the country to the va-Q-tec facilities, to be reconditioned and subsequently forwarded to vaccination centres.
Traceability of the thermal boxes is made possible through the Ahíva shipping management platform, with Correo Uruguayo codes associated with the internal va-Q-tec codes.
Uruguay Post and COVID-19 vaccination
The Uruguayan Post, Administración Nacional de Correos (ANC), is an integral part of the government’s efforts and plan for the upcoming vaccination campaign.
The national health authority, the Ministerio de Salud Pública (MSP), and national emergency response organization, the Sistema Nacional de Emergencias (SINAE), are leading the planning process.
According to the plan, the ANC is to support the MSP by transferring the vaccines from storage sites to the vaccination centres. The ANC will also carry out the reverse logistics, which mainly consist of collecting the equipment needed to maintain the temperature of the vaccines throughout the process, so that it can be reused the following days.
Uruguay Post and the Health sector
The ANC has vast experience in working on health-related issues that extends back even before the current COVID-19 pandemic. Among other activities, the ANC transports and delivers medical equipment, health products and medicines, both for human health and veterinary use. The services currently in place include the following:
- Free-of-charge distribution of medicines from state healthcare centres to users.
- Transfer of blood samples from all newborn babies from maternity centres to a central laboratory, in order to perform different tests to confirm or rule out pathologies. Any child born in the country undergoes these tests, regardless of the health institution to which they belong. The tests search for diseases presenting no clinical symptoms at the time of birth, but which produce biochemical alterations that can be detected by means of specific analyses.