According to numbers crunched by DHL, it will take 8,000 747-sized aircraft to move 1 billion doses of a vaccine.  Bear in mind the global population is currently estimated at 7.8 billion.  No matter how you look at this challenge, the global freighter market is going to be very busy for several years, just focusing on moving medicines around.  The nature of the pandemic is such that commercial air freight, perhaps supplemented by military freighters, is a far more effective method of moving the vaccines where they are needed. 

If Covid has taught us anything, it is that delaying reaction to infections has potentially catastrophic consequences.  The setting up of a viable method of global distribution for Covid vaccines is going to be of considerable help when the next pandemic hits.  Potentially, the commercial freighter fleet could be making 500,000 flights to ensure everyone on the planet gets a vaccine.  Since the vaccines need to be kept at very low temperatures, payloads may shrink to account for payload freezers. Good times for the freighter business.

The primary commercial air freight fleet looks like as at 2Q20.

If we add the various military freighters there is a lot more capacity.  But staying with what we have commercially, here is how the payload share looks at 2Q20.  Boeing is the king of the freighter hill.

When the vaccines are made available, the chances of that medication getting to you on a Boeing is almost certain.

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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