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Pfizer to bypass US government system for COVID vaccine distribution – FreightWaves



Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) will manage distribution of its COVID-19 vaccine on its own rather than through the U.S. government’s designated coordinator, but officials question whether the U.S. has an adequate supply of medical-grade freezers at the point of use for vaccines requiring storage at ultra-cold temperatures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August tasked McKesson Corp. to be the central distributor for COVID vaccines and related supplies needed to administer vaccinations. Most pharmaceutical companies will deliver approved vaccines to McKesson distribution centers, which will arrange delivery to hospitals, nursing homes and other administration points.

Pfizer has a different, just-in-time distribution plan. It will ship COVID medicine directly from U.S. manufacturing facilities and warehouses to end users with the help of trusted transportation providers, said Tanya Alcorn, the company’s vice president for biopharma global supply chain, during a Thursday webinar organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve been working from the beginning with the U.S. government to ensure that model is successful,” she said.

The U.S. government has contracted with the New York-based pharmaceutical company to deliver 100 million initial doses once its vaccine is approved, with an option for an additional 500 million doses. Pfizer’s product must be maintained at minus 75 degrees Celsius (-109.3 degrees Fahrenheit) to maintain its effectiveness. Officials this week said they expect to provide safety data from final-stage clinical trials to the Food and Drug Administration by the third week of November and then apply for an emergency use authorization if everything checks out.

Moderna also is also developing a vaccine for the government with similar technology and temperature requirements. It said Thursday it too is on pace to deliver data from a Phase 3 trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in November. The company expects to be able to produce 20 million doses by the end of the year, and between 500 million and 1 billion in 2021.

Pharmaceutical and logistics industry representatives on the Chamber webinar said the U.S. is well positioned to handle ultra-cold vaccines, but federal health regulators last month expressed doubts about whether there is adequate infrastructure nationwide.

The responsibility for determining how many deep-freeze machines exist at health care facilities has fallen on states because there is no central inventory.

“Not all of those [vaccination sites] will have the ultra-cold deep freezers to be able to store vaccines, particularly the Pfizer product,” said Jay Butler, CDC deputy director for infectious diseases, during a mid-October media briefing. “So that is an important part of the state planning effort to determine where that capacity is.” 

That means the nation’s 64 vaccinations jurisdictions are on their own to secure cryogenic freezers, which could lead to shortages as every region competes for a limited resource, much like states fought each other for ventilators early in the pandemic, Roll Call recently reported.

“There’s no historical precedent for us maintaining vaccines on dry ice in the United States. That’s never happened,” testified Paul Offit, an adviser to the FDA on vaccines and director of vaccine education at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, before a House panel Sept. 30. “We’ve always shipped in the United States at most at freezer temperatures. … I do worry about that. I think it’s going to be an enormous challenge.”

Those worries are one reason some believe the Defense Department will deploy roll-on/roll-off cargo aircraft that can quickly transport large amounts of frozen vaccine, possibly in truck trailers, during the initial wave of distribution. 

Experts say vaccines will likely be administered at hospitals and other large sites because typical spots such as pharmacies and doctor’s offices don’t have ultra-cold freezers. Large sites could share some of their shipments with local facilities if they have excess doses, but the vaccines could lose a day or two of freshness for transport, experts told Roll Call.

Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s director of immunization and respiratory diseases, recommended during an industry conference call in late September against states investing in their own deep freezers, which cost as much as $15,000, because they won’t be needed for very long as less sensitive vaccines that take longer to develop are produced, according to the Roll Call report.

If sites quickly use up the doses ultra-cold storage may be less of a concern.

Medicines at standard frozen and refrigerated temperatures are much easier to distribute, according to industry representatives. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine can remain stable at minus 20 Celsius.

“Our vaccine candidate is better suited to the world,” especially areas that don’t have the latest cold storage technology, said Remo Colarusso, vice president of supply chain at Johnson & Johnson, during the U.S. Chamber event.  

Pfizer packaging innovation

Direct shipping enables Pfizer to have greater control and real-time insights into the status of the frozen vials.

Uncertainty about the cold-chain capabilities of transportation providers and vaccine administration facilities led the drugmaker to co-create a special thermal cooler with real-time GPS and thermal monitoring that can keep its vaccine in a deep freeze for 10 days if left unopened. The shipping container, about the size of a small suitcase, uses dry ice to maintain recommended storage conditions. Once opened, vials can be stored at normal refrigerated temperatures for five days. Replenishing dry ice can extend the storage time after opening to 15 days.

Alcorn said Pfizer also developed a control tower that will get real-time alerts if the temperature deviates from the required range or a shipment doesn’t reach its destination within a prescribed time frame.

Control towers are centralized hubs with logistics specialists that capture data from all stages of the supply chain to improve processes and manage events.

Data loggers have provided GPS information for pharmaceutical shipments for several years, but Alcorn said having location data integrated with temperature readings from a refrigerated container is new for the industry.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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7 Reasons Why America Loves Doing Business with Canada



Canada is one of the United States’ most important trading partners. According to the United States Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the US exports over $300B worth of goods and services to Canada annually. It also imports over $300B worth of goods and services from the country every year.

In fact, the trade relationship between the two North American countries is the biggest in the world. The two nations have traded for over 100 years. And a strong trade relationship is prosperous for both countries.

So, what makes Canada such an excellent trading partner for the United States? Here are a few good reasons:

1. Geographical Location

Canada shares a large border with the United States. Trading with Canada is easy by road, boat, or air. Most of the economic hotspots in Canada like Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary are just a short flight away from an American city.

2. Manufacturing Strengths

Canada has some exceptional exports thanks to its vast manufacturing strengths. Here are a few of its two products:

  • Non-renewable Energy: Canada’s non-renewable energy exports like oil and gas are a significant part of its economy. Although falling gas prices have impacted this sector, Canada continues to depend on its gas and oil exports.
  • Composite Manufacturing: You’ll find plenty of world-class options if you’re looking for advanced composite manufacturing in Canada regardless of your industry. The Canadian composite manufacturing industry serves many national and international clients in sectors such as defence, transportation, marine, aerospace, medical, industrial, energy, home appliances, construction, and more.
  • Vehicle: Canada has a renowned automotive sector, producing light trucks, crossovers, SUVs, etc., with its technologically advanced factories. 95% of Canada’s automotive exports go to the United States.
  • Aluminum: The Great White North produces some of the best quality aluminum in the world. The United States happens to be Canada’s biggest importer of aluminum.
  • Meat and Dairy: Canada produces meat, beef, poultry, and dairy known for its quality. Unlike some countries, Canada doesn’t use harmful hormones in its meat industry.

3. Good Tax Treaties

Canada has many provisions that make business favourable for American companies. For example, a non-resident corporation that does not otherwise have a permanent establishment (PE) in Canada may do business without paying income tax on its profits. Canada also offers favourable corporate taxes, especially compared to the United States.

Aside from federal incentives, many provinces offer provincial incentives to do business in Canada. For example, many American films and TV shows are shot in Toronto because of lucrative tax enticements.

4. Favourable Exchange Rates

Not only is the Canadian dollar stable, but it usually hovers 20% lower than the United States. The favourable exchange rate makes it cost-effective for the United States to import goods and services from Canada.

However, the exchange rate isn’t so low that it discourages Canadians from travelling to the United States or buying American products. Many economists consider the exchange rate to be in the sweet spot.

5. Similar Culture

Canada speaks the same language, eats the same food, plays the same sports, and consumes the same entertainment. A similar coculture without language barriers makes it easier for Americans to do business with Canada.

Of course, there are some parts of Canada where French is the most popular language. Likewise, Spanish is more prevalent in certain places in the United States. However, these issues are easily overcome with business cards, translators, and technology.

6. Prominent Tech Industry

Many American technology companies are doing business with Canada because of the country’s prominence on the tech stage. For example, Toronto produces more tech occupations than the Bay Area, New York, and even Silicon Valley.

Toronto also has over 2,000 startups and over 14,000 tech companies. In the MaRS Center, Canada also has one of the world’s largest innovation hubs. Canada is also the first nation in the world to develop a national AI strategy. There are over 500 international AI firms in the country. The world’s biggest concentration of AI startups is in Canada.

Besides the national AI strategy, there is plenty of other support for tech development in the country that’s attractive to the United States. Canada invested $900m in high-tech innovation and funded startup incubators in 2015.

Additionally, Canada offers many tax breaks to companies for research and development. It also provides special visa programs for investors and entrepreneurs in the tech industry.

7. Qualified Labour Pool

Canada has the second-highest tertiary education levels worldwide for people between the ages of 25 and 34, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Canada’s highly skilled workforce stands at nearly 1.5 million people. Canada’s tech talent is also ranked highly for diversity.

These are just some of the many reasons why the United States enjoys doing business with Canada. Even with the economic climate changing, you can expect the partnership between the two countries to stand the test of time.

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10 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out in 2021 – Part 2



Last week I provided 5 suggestions on how you can make your LinkedIn profile, which in 2021 is a non-negotiable must-have for job seekers, to stand out. The suggestions were:


  1. Add a headshot
  2. Create an eye-catching headline
  3. Craft an interesting summary
  4. Highlight your experience
  5. Use visual media


I’ll continue with my next 5 suggestions:


  1. Customize your URL


Your LinkedIn URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the web address for your profile. The default URL will have your name and some random numbers and letters ( Customizing your profile URL ( makes your profile search engine friendly; therefore, you’re easier to find. As well a customized URL invites the person searching to make some positive assumptions about you:


  • You’re detail oriented.
  • You’re technologically savvy.
  • You understand the power of perception (Image is everything!).


James Wooden, one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports, is to have said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”


To change your profile URL, go to the right side of your profile. There you’ll find an option to edit your URL. Use this option to make your URL concise and neat.


  1. Make connections


The more connections you have increases the likelihood of being found when hiring managers and recruiters, looking for potential candidates with your background, search on LinkedIn. Envision your number of connections as ‘the amount of gas in your tank.’


At the very least, you should aim to get over 500 connections. Anything below 500 LinkedIn will indicate your number of connections as an exact number (ex. 368). Above 500 connections, LinkedIn simply shows you have 500+ connections. Getting to 500 implies you’re a player on LinkedIn.


As much as possible, connect with individuals you know personally, have worked with, met in a professional capacity (tradeshow, conference), is in your city/region and industry/profession. If you’d like to connect with someone you haven’t met, send a note with your request explaining who you are and why you’d like to connect. (This’ll be my topic in next week’s column.)


  1. Ask for recommendations and skill endorsements


This is vital to making your profile stand out! Employers want to know that others think of your work.


When asking for a recommendation, or skill endorsements, think of all the people you’ve worked the past. Don’t just think of your past bosses; also think of colleagues, vendors, customers — anyone who can vouch for your work and professionalism.


Instructions on how to ask for, and give, a recommendation, can be found by going to the LinkedIn ‘Help’ field (Located by clicking on the drop-down arrow below the ‘Me’ icon in the upper right-hand corner.) and typing ‘Requesting a recommendation.’ Do the same for skill endorsements.


TIP: It’s good karma to write recommendations, and endorse skills, in return and to give unsolicited.


  1. Keep your profile active


LinkedIn is not simply an online resume — it’s a networking social media site. To get the most out of LinkedIn, you need to be constantly active (at least 3 times per week). Write posts and articles. Check out what is being posted, especially by your connections. Like and share posts that resonate with you. Engage with thoughtful comments that’ll put forward your expertise.


Join groups that align with your industry and professional interests. Groups are an excellent way to meet like-minded professionals with whom to network and share ideas and best practices.


  1. Check your LinkedIn profile strength


It’s in LinkedIn’s interest that you’re successful using their platform. Therefore, they’ve created a ‘Profile Strength Meter’ to gauge how robust your profile is. Basically, this gauge tells you completion level of your profile. Using the tips, you’ll be given, keep adding to your profile until your gauge rates you “All-Star.” For instructions on how to access your ‘Profile Strength Meter,’ use the LinkedIn’ Help’ field.


The 10 tips I offered is a starting point for building a LinkedIn profile that WOWs! Jobseekers need to make the most of their profile to stand out in a sea of candidates, sell their skills, and validate their accomplishments. Make it easy for the reader to get a feel for who you are professionally.


Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at

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Canadian National beats Canadian Pacific with $33.6 billion Kansas City bid



U.S. railway operator Kansas City Southern said on Thursday that it had accepted Canadian National Railway Co’s $33.6 billion acquisition offer, upending a $29 billion deal with its competitor Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.

The development, first reported by Reuters, gives Canadian Pacific five business days to make a new offer for Kansas City Southern. Were Canadian Pacific to table a new offer, a bidding war could ensue.

Canadian Pacific had previously announced a deal to buy Kansas City Southern on March 21, before Canadian National said it had submitted a higher bid on April 20. The headline price in Canadian National’s cash-and-stock bid remains $325 per share as originally announced, though the company offered more of its shares to compensate for a decline in its stock price.

Canadian National has offered to cover the $700 million break-up fee Kansas City Southern will owe Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. It will also pay Kansas City Southern $1 billion if the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) rejects a voting trust structure it has put forward to complete the deal.

“We believe that Canadian Pacific’s negotiated agreement with Kansas City is the only true end-to-end Class I combination that is in the best interests of North American shippers and communities,” a Canadian Pacific spokeswoman said.

Canadian Pacific and larger rival Canadian National are in a race to take over the U.S. railroad operator, which would create the first direct railway linking Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Either of them acquiring Kansas City Southern would create a North American railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada, as supply chains recover from COVID-19 pandemic-led disruptions.

The acquisition interest in Kansas City Southern also follows the ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement last year that removed the threat of trade tensions, which had escalated under former U.S. President Donald Trump.

The STB last week approved the voting trust for Canadian Pacific’s proposed acquisition. Canadian National has offered an identical arrangement.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Aurora Ellis and Richard Chang)

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