Alaska Airlines and Singapore Airlines were tasked with transporting the vaccine to their geographically-challenged homelands.
The first doses arrived in remote Alaskan communities less than three days after the first trucks left Kalamazoo, Michigan while Singapore became the first country to receive the vaccine one week later.
Passenger airlines and cargo carriers alike have been essential in getting the vaccine to the world's furthest reaches.
Cargo carriers UPS Airlines and FedEx Express had the honor of flying the first doses from Michigan but passenger airlines also proved to be an integral part of the aerial vaccine distribution network. United Airlines, for example, flew the first US doses in from Belgium shortly after Thanksgiving, weeks before the Food and Drug Administration gave the drug its OK.
Singapore Airlines and Alaska Airlines have also been tasked with flying the vaccine but both have a more unique mandate of delivering the pandemic-ending drugs to their homelands. Both Singapore and Alaska are about as far from Pfizer's plants in Brussels and Michigan as one can get, making air travel the only viable option.
But geography notwithstanding, the two regions were able to receive their first doses of Pfizer's landmark vaccine within days of its emergency authorization thanks to their respective airlines.
Here's how they did it.
Singapore Airlines deployed its cargo freighters to Europe to bring back the vaccine.
The Boeing 747-400F, as the largest aircraft in Singapore's cargo fleet, was the aircraft of choice, with the shipment easily sliding through its unique nose door not found on many other freighters.
The Jumbo Jet has served as a lifeline to Singapore during the pandemic, bringing food and supplies to the island-nation whose borders are largely closed to the outside world. Now, it's bringing home the COVID-19 vaccine.
Singapore is the first Asian country to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, making the arrival even more historic.
The shipment departed Brussels on December 20 and arrived in Singapore nearly 16 hours later after a quick fuel stop in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. No time was wasted as the shipment received priority treatment on both ends.
In preparation for the flight, Singapore Airlines had performed a dry run on the Brussels-Singapore route to ensure a smooth flight but also monitor the dry ice onboard.
Copious amounts of dry ice are required to keep Pfizer's vaccine at the -94 degrees Fahrenheit temperature it requires.
Each of these boxes is packed with at least 20 kilograms of dry ice to keep the vaccine at its required temperature.
If the temperature isn't maintained, the vaccine can spoil and become ineffective, a risk that Pfizer nor its customers can allow since every dose of the vaccine is vital to ending the pandemic.
The problem faced by airlines, however, is that dry ice sublimates to carbon dioxide, which can incapacitate the crew. It's why dry ice is considered a dangerous good in aviation.
But airlines have been turning to regulators and manufacturers to get revised dry ice limits to carry as much vaccine as possible. United Airlines, for example, was granted permission to fly up to five times more vaccine by the Federal Aviation Administration than what would've normally been allowed.
Dry ice limitations are also the reason why this Boeing 747 wasn't filled to the brim with vaccine as regulations wouldn't allow it, making transport to remote regions like Southeast Asia all the more difficult.
Multiple flights will likely be required to inoculate the entire country of five million as two doses are required.
Once in Singapore, the vaccine was immediately moved to a cold storage facility to await transport to the country's hospitals and inoculation centers.
On the other side of the world in the US, Alaska Airlines was tasked with bringing the vaccines to rural communities across its namesake state.
Alaska has seen over 40,000 cases of COVID-19 with nearly 200 deaths, which the vaccine aims to prevent.
Alaska's harsh geography makes transporting the vaccine all the more difficult as not all cities are connected by road to Anchorage, the state's primary logistical hub.
"The state of Alaska is unique in that 80% of communities are only accessible by air or water and most vaccines must be distributed by plane," Alaska Airlines wrote in a blog post.
Alaska frequently operates multi-leg flights, known as the "milk run," which serves some of the state's smallest and most remote communities as a lifeline transporting food, supplies, and people.
The shortest flight is just 31 miles in duration between Petersburg and Wrangell. The route is also the shortest operated by a major airline in the US.
Nearly every city on Alaska's route map in the 49th state will receive the vaccine from the airline, a spokesperson told Business Insider, from Barrow to the Aleutian Islands.
And the box designed by Pfizer and Softbox can be loaded onto any of Alaska's passenger or cargo planes.
Some doses were transferred onto even smaller planes to be flown across the Alaskan Bush where residents drove up on jet skis to receive their dose.