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FedEx Express begins delivery of Moderna vaccine in December. (Photo by Paul Sancya - Pool/Getty Images)

FedEx and UPS say their shipping networks are prepared to handle a faster-than-expected rollout of vaccines in the U.S.

Why it matters: President Biden's new accelerated timeline to provide enough doses for 300 million Americans to be vaccinated by the end of May — two months earlier than expected — depends not just on ramped-up production, but also on the ability of shipping giants to deliver more doses into communities.

The big picture: Both companies are highly experienced with healthcare distribution and have been preparing for their role in the vaccine rollout, both in the U.S. and globally, for nearly a year.

  • UPS, for example, has already delivered vaccines to more than 33 countries, and recently launched new partnerships with nonprofits to help facilitate equitable global delivery.
  • Still, vaccines account for only a tiny percentage of the overall goods that move through their networks each day.
  • Adding Johnson & Johnson's vaccine to the mix — on top of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines they're already delivering — should be no problem.

What they're saying: “We’re ready at UPS to deliver on the U.S. plan…and more,” Wes Wheeler, president of UPS Healthcare, tells Axios.

  • “Our capacity has been reserved for this. All of our systems, including our UPS Healthcare Command Center, are ready to accelerate even faster. Whatever is needed, we are ready.”
  • "Bring it on," said Don F. Colleran, CEO of FedEx Express. "This is serious business."

The bottom line, says Colleran: It's about more than moving packages through the FedEx network. "This is about small businesses being opened, restaurants finally being back in business, people getting back to work."

  • "We're viewing it as a path to normalcy."

Go deeper

The U.S. coronavirus vaccines aren't all the same

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. now has three COVID-19 vaccines, and public health officials are quick — and careful — to say there’s no bad option. But their effectiveness, manufacturing and distribution vary.

Why it matters: Any of the authorized vaccines are much better than no vaccine, especially for people at high risk of severe coronavirus infections. But their differences may fuel perceptions of inequity, and raise legitimate questions about the best way to use each one.

Mar 2, 2021 - World

China and Russia vaccinate the world — for now

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While the U.S. and Europe focus on vaccinating their own populations, China and Russia are sending millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries around the world.

Why it matters: China's double success in controlling its domestic outbreak and producing several viable vaccines has allowed it to focus on providing doses abroad — an effort that could help to save lives across several continents.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Mar 3, 2021 - Energy & Environment

FedEx pledges $2 billion to become carbon-neutral by 2040

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Package giant FedEx said on Wednesday it hopes to become carbon-neutral across operations by 2040 and pledged $2 billion of "initial investments" toward the goal.

Why it matters: Flying and driving heavy stuff all over the place — FedEx says it's the world's largest cargo airline — has a substantial carbon footprint.